Sharing your story through Insights
What is Insights?
Insights is a monthly news and features magazine. It’s published 11 times a year for the Synod of New South Wales and the ACT of the Uniting Church in Australia by Synod Communications and Marketing. It has a strong emphasis on people, issues, local churches and church and popular culture. Readers are quite diverse in age, sex, education, theological viewpoints, and involvement in the life of the church.
What sort of stories are we interested in?
We want to tell stories about:
- an innovative, growing church
- which is proclaiming Jesus Christ
- and is empowered by the Spirit to transform God’s world.
- We want to share stories about the church and its people with you. And we hope you’ll share your stories, too — especially stories about your local church.
How much should you write?
Our rule of thumb is 300 words maximum. That calls for a bit of discipline. It helps you work out what’s essential and what’s not.
A most popular part of Insights has always been Your Say. People like to know what other people in the church are thinking and saying. They also like to know about other people in the church and what they are doing. That’s why you telling us your story is so important.
We ask you to keep letters to under 150 words. Submit a letter now.
What about poetry, fiction or obituaries?
Insights almost never uses fiction or short fillers, and poetry only occasionally. Obituaries are rarely published and only when the person has had a significant impact on the Church nationally or internationally.
How should you write your story?
The simple answer is — write simply. Write it as it comes. Don’t try to be impressive, just straight forward. Be relaxed about it.
Is there anything to avoid?
Yes. Church magazines are sometimes criticised because they use “God talk” or “church speak” — language a newcomer wouldn’t understand. Remember the newcomers. Don’t write as though your readers will know all about the Uniting Church, or all about your local church.
What should you put in the story?
Give the essential points they’d want to know. If you’re writing about an event, for example, say:
- What it was.
- When it was.
- Where it was.
- Why it was held.
- Who took part in it.
- How people can find out more about it.
It would be good to ask yourself the question: How is God acting in this?
Personal touches can make a story more interesting. One of the most effective ways of supplying that personal touch is to quote someone.
Be accurate with your quotes. You can’t put words in someone else’s mouth. Make sure quotes read naturally — that they’re conversational, not like extracts from a formal report.
You can suggest ways people can improve their quotes — by making their sentences shorter, for example, or by using “ordinary” words if they’ve used jargon or “officialiese”.
Should you mention people’s names?
Yes, where it’s appropriate. But don’t go overboard about it. A big list of who attended is not an interesting story.
Do you have to type everything?
No. Just make sure we can read what you write. And make sure names, dates and phone numbers are accurate. If your handwriting isn’t very clear, use capital letters for names.
Where will the story end up?
Most stories from local correspondents go into our news section. Sometimes we want to get more details and turn it into a story for our Ministry Profile pages or when what you are doing fits in with one of our feature themes.
Can you email stories and letters to us?
Of course. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org
What about photographs?
We like photographs. But they need to be strong and interesting if they’re to be reproduced.
What about digital pictures?
How can you tell what sort of picture is suitable for us? The best way is to look at those we use. See what works.They should be 300 dpi to reproduce well. If that’s confusing to you, just remember to set your digital camera to the NORMAL or FINE setting (definitely use FINE if you know you are definitely shooting a possible Insights cover shot!). Please don’t reduce the images you shoot or tinker with them at all before you send them to us.
How can we reach you?
Please put your name, address, email and phone number on anything you send us. We might want to check a detail with you or get more information.
We don’t publish anonymous contributions.
And finally …
We want Insights to be friendly and easy to read. It’s a community magazine. It serves the church family. So there should be a warmth about it. At the same time we want to be professional. If you have any questions, please get in touch with us.