Guidelines for BUC News and Messenger Reporting and Photography
Everyone wants to make Messenger and BUC News look good in terms of
pictures, and interesting in terms of reporting. So how's it done?
What is news?
Before we begin to report for Messenger or BUC News we should ask the
question: What is news?
Most readers are church members from congregations other than your
own; do not write reports or details that will be of interest only
to members of your own congregation.
Do not report events that occur in all churches (unless, that is,
something striking occurs). For example, reports on harvest
festivals, Christmas events, visitors' days and Ingathering are only
of interest if something very special happens.
By all means report every baptism. However, do make your report
interesting; single out some special aspect of the baptism that will
recommend it to the attention of the readers from other
congregations. Usually the most interesting thing about a baptism
will be a remarkable conversion story.
Do not report anything and everything; but do not allow important
events to go unreported.
What is interesting?
People are always interesting. Reports can be made interesting by
introducing details about individuals. Readers are interested in
ages, backgrounds, conversion stories, why a particular individual
became a pastor, etc.
Children are always interesting. Regrettably, however, the only
news reportage we receive featuring children is when they appear in
an investiture. Pathfindering activity could make interesting
reading, but investiture reports tend to degenerate into lists of
names and tabulated achievements. Let's aim to find interesting
stories about what the children are doing both inside and outside
Try to connect the church with one of the ‘live' issues of the
day. For example, the war against terrorism, abortion, green issues,
areas of the world experiencing political/social/economic upheaval.
If you discover that your pastor, Sabbath school superintendent and
AYS leader rarely touch on ‘live' issues, have a chat with them.
News gathering. News will not fall into your lap. You will have to
find it. Watch the active people in your congregation. Make contacts
in all departments of the church and attend church board meetings.
Interview people. Take notes. Do not report for Messenger once
a quarter; report each event as and when it occurs.
What is not interesting?
Under no circumstances should you adopt a "blow-by-blow"
method of reporting. Readers are not interested in the hymns you
sang, the Sabbath school lesson you studied, who pronounced the
You are not writing the minutes of a meeting; you are focusing on
interesting aspects of things your church is doing, and recounting
stories that will rivet the attention of the reader.
What is essential?
Clarity. Short sentences help to carry the reader along. Plan your
piece; have an outline before you begin to write. Reread and,
perhaps, rewrite your article before you submit it. Remember: you
are not writing for its own sake - you are communicating. Use words
to convey a message.
Keep the reader's attention. Your opening sentence should lure the
reader into your piece. Tell a story; don't just stack the facts.
- Avoid Adventist jargon phrases which turn readers off.
Highlights only. When reporting the events of a special day be
selective in what details you include. The report need not begin
with comments on the weather or Sabbath school. It could, for
example, begin with a quotation from the sermon, or a quoted
reaction from a member of the congregation, or biographical details
with regard to the speaker.
Get your facts right. Make sure that the spelling of all proper
names is correct. If you are providing a list of names (for example,
baptismal candidates) use a uniform style - either Christian names
and surnames throughout or initials and surnames throughout.
How to submit your report
For the Messenger either e-mail your reports to: <firstname.lastname@example.org> or post them
to: The Stanborough Press Limited, Alma Park, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG31 9SL.
For BUC News e-mail your reports to: <email@example.com>.
Remember: If a particular report or photograph does not make it into Messenger or BUC News
do not take it personally and get discouraged. Try again. You, along with the Editor, have the responsibility
to make the magazine interesting and appealing.
The appearance of Messenger and BUC News is very much down
to the standard of photography sent in. We can improve your reports in
the editorial process, but we cannot improve your photography.
- Only submit contrasty colour photographs.
Beware of cheap digital cameras - at least 5 megapixels are needed
for good resolution.
- Avoid using mobile phone cameras. They have a very small lens, lack sensitivity in low light and are not suitable for print.
Do not embed pictures in a Word file. Send them in jpeg format and
use the highest resolution that your camera will offer. (Please note that some
software will reduce image size for emailing. Please be cautious to ensure
that your email or software programme does not do this.)
Exposure. The majority of photographs sent are under-exposed. For
indoor flash pictures the built in flash on your camera is almost
always insufficient. Use a dedicated flash gun if you can. If you
have to use a camera with a built in flash you must get
within about 1.5 metres of the subject. Avoid the fill-in flash
setting on your camera if you are inside. Outside in the sunshine it
can help to flatten harsh shadows on people's faces.
Photographs, like reports, need to be interesting. Try to vary the
composition of your photographs. ‘Action shots' are preferable to
‘firing squad pictures' (photographs of groups of people all
facing the camera).
Use only "optical zoom" on your camera. Cheaper cameras
with digital zoom reduce the picture quality.
For the Messenger send digital pictures to: <
or post prints to: David Marshall, Stanborough Press Limited, Alma Park, Grantham,
Lincolnshire, NG31 9SL.
For the BUC News
or the BUC
Picture Gallery send digital pictures to: <
Large files of collections of several pictures are best sent by "zipping" the photos with
a programme such as WinZip or WinRAR and using the free website:
This avoids jamming up email inboxes with large files.
More Photography Tips can be found on a free summery of the Communication Department
Workshop, "Sucessful Picture
Publishing". (pdf document. Right click and "save as" to download.
Messenger is the official journal of the Seventh-day Adventist
Church in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is published fortnightly
by the British Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and printed by
the Stanborough Press Limited, Alma Park, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG31 9SL.
Single copy subscription by post - £13.00. Overseas airmail subscription - £27.50.
For further information contact the Editor, Dr David Marshall. Phone: 01476 591700.
Fax: 01476 577144. E-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.