City Trees

May/June 2013

City Trees is a premier publication focused on urban + community forestry. In each issue, you’ll learn how to best manage the trees in your community and more!

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Page 6 of 39

Writing for a Newspaper by Jeff Shimonski, Director of Horticulture, Jungle Island, Miami, Florida Ever since I started working professionally in horticulture I always wanted to write articles for newspapers, magazines, and journals. It was a big thrill for me to get published for the first time in an international journal. What I didn't understand early on was how to write. I was fortunate to have a couple of mentors; one was a full time professional writer who wrote for national magazines and newspapers, and the other wrote for scientific journals. I submitted my drafts to both writers for critiquing and soon found that they would often contradict each other. They were writing for different audiences and had different rules to follow. The main truism I soon found out was that the editor for the magazine or newspaper that I was attempting to write for was in absolute charge. I learned I would have to occasionally deal with my article being revised or sent back to me for revision. I had to accept the situation if I wanted to continue writing. About six years ago I was asked to write an article on hurricane preparedness for a very small local monthly newspaper. I jumped at the opportunity and have been writing a monthly garden column for them ever since. It has been a great ongoing relationship. The first couple of years I was very concerned about running out of subjects to write about and making that monthly deadline. There are only so many times you can write about coconut palms and mango trees. where, when, and how; don't let them down. Oh, and get over the corny titles the editors give your articles. You will never be able to control that. Read on for two samples of Jeff Shimonski's columns. I learned to look at my column from a very broad point of view. I have grown hundreds of species of plants and I can write about my experiences with them but I also write articles about trees and zoning issues, edible plants and recipes, how to deal with landscape contractors, and many other subjects. These articles get reprinted and referenced on the Internet and in other newspapers. The small local monthly newspaper that I started writing for six years ago is now one of the most popular and successful newspapers in Miami. A friend once told me to write, or speak, like I was telling a story. This was great advice and I am still learning how to get better at storytelling. I get quite a bit of email from readers of my articles and am learning that a welltold story is usually a well-read story. So if you want to write, learn to write for your audience and be able to deal with editorial corrections and possible rejection. Also make sure of the facts in the story. The editor and your readers want to know who, what, 7

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