First of all: – The Florida Morning Post is a news publication that is competing with almost two hundred other news outlets in the State of Florida alone for readership, and thousands of others across the United States for the same thing.
With readers now having thousands of online news reading option, including Facebook, from where they can get their daily dose of user-generated information, they will not stick with a news publication that does not offer high quality and appealing news content.
It is for this very reason that we have decided to take a number of measures to ensure that the articles that are published by us, are on par with the standards that are required globally, thus ensuring that our news publication can withstand the competition.
As a result, we have raised our content quality bar, and have further decided to only publish stories that satisfy our content quality checklist.
This means that as of the 23 June, a larger number of junk and profiteering stories from many contributors are now most likely to be rejected by our Editors.
But if you want to ensure that your writing efforts pay off, while guarding your article against REJECTION, here are a few things that you should do.
1 – Avoid plagiarism.
A lot of writers have been submitting content that is mostly copied from other news websites, word for word.
Once the illegally copied article is published, the writer will then be enlisted for payment from the Florida Morning Post.
But the problem is that it is against the law to steal and profit from another person work.
In the United States, from the moment you collects even $1 for a plagiarized article or a stolen photograph, it is considered WIRE FRAUD.
By all accounts, it is considered a crime for which you can go to jail, and a situation that can cost our publication hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal settlements or fines.
It is for that very reason we cannot and will not knowingly publish a plagiarized article.
As such, we will NOT allow writers to abuse this anti-plagiarism requirement, since it can cause the downfall of the Florida Morning Post, and the loss of a number of jobs, simply because one writer decides to profit by plagiarizing other people’s content.
Therefore, if you want to ensure that your article passes the initial pre-publishing test, then you must first ensure that it is not plagiarized.
You can check your article for plagiarism yourself by using a free online plagiarism checker.
However, not everything you write is considered plagiarism.
For example if you are quoting a paragraph from CNN, or use phrases like “According to a report on CNN”, or “Several news sources have confirmed the incident, including CNN, which quoted xyz”, that would not be considered plagiarism, even if your online plagiarism check nailed it at 40%.
Additionally, republishing a quote of what someone had said is not plagiarism, even if one hundred other news publications had published the same quote, unless the quote was made exclusively to a reporter of a particular publication.
For example; – While addressing the crowd, the President said, “We intend to send a strong message that we are bent on making America strong again regardless of …………..”.
Republishing such a public statement ‘word-for-word’ would not amount to plagiarism.
Making reasonable references to certain points in an article from another news publication is also not necessarily plagiarism.
So if you are rewriting an article, it is better to Google search the story to see what you can gather from multiple sources and then choose to rewrite the article in your own way and how you understand it, while making linked references to sources that make any particular interesting point, if needs be.
You can also use phrases like “The Florida Morning Post understands that xyz occurred, and which had led to the man being shot” – whenever you wish to quote from another publication as both the writer and the observer, but do not necessarily want to make a repeated or obvious reference to the source.
In that way, Editors would not reject your article for plagiarism.
2 – Avoid spinning your articles
There are some people who are still trying to defraud our systems by using software to spin their articles.
We have since begun identifying and removing those articles from our systems and may penalize writers in the future who does that, by banning them for life from our publication and any other associated publications.
After all, if you use a software to spin the article, it will not flow correctly when checked by our human editors, and would, therefore, require a lot of rework for it to flow newspaper style.
3 – Properly paragraph and check for missing words.
Editors would simply reject an article if it has too many missing words like “if, but, is, the” and so on.
Additionally, if an article is not properly paragraphed, an Editor may simply look at the story and reject it without reading nothing more than a single line.
For example, some writers would submit an article looking like this; –
The President explained that we have to unite and buy a lot of popcorn whenever we are going to the movies. John Public who heard the President’s speech immediately agreed and said that he would definitely buy popcorns when at the movie. Popcorn has always been a movie favorite for a number of persons since in the days of Noah when they ate it on the ark during the flood.
That is a poorly paragraphed article which should look like this instead; –
The President explained that we have to unite and buy a lot of popcorn whenever we are going to the movies.
John Public who heard the President’s speech immediately agreed and said that he would definitely buy popcorns when at the movie.
Popcorn has always been a movie favorite for a number of persons since in the days of Noah when they ate it in the boat during the flood.
For us, when an article is bundled up, it shows that the writer is lazy and does not pay attention to the structure of their work, because they expect an editor to fix it.
But you can rest assure that an Editor would recognize this laziness and immediately reject your article without even reading it.
So if you want to save your article from being rejected, then you should ensure that there are no missing words, and that it is properly layout.
4 – Make sure that the article is flowing correctly
A lot of writers would often rush to submit an article because they are thinking more about the money and not the quality of their article.
If you are one of those types of writers, then you will find yourself writing a hundred junk articles and only being paid for one, since only one was approved.
Additionally, after your probation period ends or even before then, too many complaints from editors would mean that we would not want to hire you in the future, upgrade your contract or promote you to a higher position such as a Junior Assistant Editor, an Assistant Editor, or an Editor.
What most writers do not know is that next to their name, there is a rating field that editors must use whenever they receive an article from them.
So every time you sends junk to us, you may be receiving a number of low ratings from various editors without realizing it.
And all that will do is reduce editorial confidence in your articles, and Editors would take a longer time to look at it, since they would prefer to give priority to writers that constantly submit great content.
We all need money, but it is better to try to work on 10 well-researched, and well-written quality articles in one month, and see 9 being published, than to send 30 articles with only 12 being published.
Becoming an excellent writer takes time, and it requires patience.
So rather than focus on your article numbers during the first few weeks, you should focus instead on the quality of the articles that you are submitting.
Remember you are still on probation.
Read your articles over ten times if necessary, correct them ten times if required, and ensure that it is an article that people would read without criticizing the quality of your work.
Better to build a good writing reputation around quality articles, than to build a dirty one around article numbers and junk.
5 – Build a good reading and social stats around your articles
There are some writers who give us content that is not so tasty or is even too far above our content quality bar.
But those writers make up for that downfall by ensuring that their articles are shared by themselves, their friends and via forums where a lot of traffic can come from.
Those writers would often end up with a higher daily reading ratio than most others, which can sometimes see as much as five to ten thousand people reading their article, and another 80 to 120 sharing it.
And when an author commands that sort of following, Editors would often prefer to publish their content faster than others in the waiting line, since the author’s readership count is high enough to make it necessary for editors to collaborate with them to ensure that their articles are published quickly.
Therefore, if you feel that submitting an article and then sitting back without helping to promote it, because you believe that Editors ought to help you, then you are certainly wrong.
Because Editors would usually prefer to give priority to better-performing writers than poorly performing ones, which would often result in rejection, since a waiting article can become expired, if stuck for too long in the review and publishing line.
As such, it is always better to see that your articles reach an audience by sharing it and encourage others to share it on Social media.
After all, it is for your own benefit and career promotional prospects in the long term.
6 – Write more about topics that we prefer to publish
You must remember first of all that the Florida Morning Post is a US news publication that prefers to carry at least 60% of content that concerns issues and events in the US or pertaining to the United States.
That aside, we also allocate 20% of our news content to issues and events surrounding the African continent, 10% Europe, 5% from Latin America, and the remaining 5% from all other places.
Therefore, it means that articles from all other areas such as Asia, Pacific etc would be least demanded since the allocation of space for articles from those places are limited.
For example, we aim to publish no more than two article per day from Asia. So if we received three articles that deal with India, two that deals with Pakistan, two that deals with China, and one that deals with Cambodia, within a 48 hours period; it would mean that 6 of those 8 articles would most likely be rejected.
Only the two preferred articles will be published in such a case.
Therefore, as a writer you need to broaden your focus and scope out a lot of smaller news websites in the US, the UK, Germany, Canada, Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, Ivory Coast, etc, because together, the Florida Morning Post requires a combined total of 30 articles per day between North America, Europe, and Africa, and another 5 or so per day from South and Central American countries.
As such, authors need to look beyond their territory to gather news content that readers in the USA, might otherwise not see or read.
That aside, we also allocate a greater percentage of publication priority to articles that deal with the following topics; –
1 – Crime, Court, social issues, and terrorism – 25%
2 – International politics – 15%
3 – Domestic or US politics – 10%
4 – International business and finance – 7%
5 – Satire, mystery, spiritualism and weird stories – 25%
6 – Women health and general inspiration topics – 7%
7 – Sport and recreation – 4%
8 – Everything else including lifestyle, entertainment, and travel – 7%
Using the above as a guide, you should be able to better understand what categories of articles we prefer and from where, in addition to how much digital space we give to each type of article daily.
7 – Avoid problematic, possibly fake, unsubstantiated or libelous articles
If an Editor feels that an article can trigger a certain unwanted backlash or unnecessary issues; might be untrue; does not have enough open facts to back it up; or can lead to a lawsuit; the Editor reserves the right to reject the publishing of that article.
For example, articles that promote terrorism, race hate, propaganda, or that may be insensitive to a religious or cultural belief, or is otherwise distasteful; – cannot be published.
8 – Beat editorial disinterest or unavailability of digital quota
An article can also be rejected often for no fault of yours, or no significant reason.
There are times when an article is rejected simply because, the Editor feels that it does not appeal our targeted audience, style or preferences, or the article might not flow the preferred taste of the Editor.
That aside, digital space might be limited because of other articles that we prefer to give space to. In such a case, your article can be rejected, since the Editor might feel that it ought not to be held on to any longer for publication at a future date.
To overcome this, always submit compelling, shocking, or interesting articles that would make an Editor eager to publish your article, rather than allowing a reader captivating story to go in to the trash can.
Life would often require that when we give a shot at something, we must always try to give it our best shot so as to eliminate the chances of failure.
And if you should apply that rule to your article writing, much of your labor would not be wasted in rejected articles.
In reality, cheating, providing fake news, and using shortcuts do not always work.
We know the payout is not a big one at the moment. But if you prove to be a great performer, we would be willing to revise your contract, and take you to the next level.
And while we would wish to keep growing with all of our authors (currently 72 in number), laziness and a refusal to improve, would cause many of them to fall off of our payroll before the end of 2018.
Do not allow yourself to be one of them.
After all, it is better to focus on one great article every two days, than to rush to give us two junk stories every day.
Take your time, and focus on the content that you are submitting.
The choice to excel with us and in journalism, is yours.
Don’t destroy it.