If you want to break into a newspaper fast, don’t write a long, narrative-style article. Instead, write a “charticle.”
Jen Stevens here today. (I’m the architect of AWAI’s Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop.) My “Olympic Fuel” Tip of the day is something I picked up from John Flinn, Executive Travel Editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, who spoke at our recent workshop.
Here’s the story…
Newspapers are struggling. But USA Today’s article formula — short, chipper, and graphic-heavy — seems to work. Readers haven’t abandoned that paper in the numbers they have others.
And those other papers have begun to take notice. Many, as John explained, are moving toward USA Today’s charticle format.
That is, articles that have a strong graphic element and few words. He held up a charticle he’d just done for his travel section titled, “Packing light: Assembling the essential wardrobe.”
To create it, he said he simply packed a bag as he would for a two- or three-week trip to Europe, brought it to the newspaper, and then dumped it out on a table for the graphics department.
They shot photos of each item. And John wrote a short paragraph to go with each photo.
In print, it took up the front page of the travel section — a series of photos, each one with a line pointing to it and at the far end of the line John’s paragraph of explanation. (You can see the online version, here.)
Follow this same user-friendly, how-to format and you’ll quickly impress the newspaper editors you approach.
You can apply it to almost any subject, though “round-up” articles lend themselves particularly well to a charticle treatment.
Here’s one from the Seattle Times called “Capital expenditures? Ha! Lots to see in D.C. for free”
And here’s one from the Denver Post called “Where to get your cowboy on”
Provide the photos to go with your charticle, and you’ll be every newspaper editor’s dream.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]