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Tom Germond
Flying saucers? Sorry, we’ll pass
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If you think you’ve seen a flying saucer, don’t call us.

Our Close Encounters bureau is short-handed these days, so I doubt we will be able to cover the story.

Same goes for sightings of Big Foot, Jimmy Hoffa and the New Jersey Devil.

Over the years, we’ve received all kinds of unusual news tips. That’s good. You can never have enough ears and eyes in this business.

But we have to pick and choose.

Throughout my career, it’s been gratifying to hear from so many readers, whether they have news tips, need help or just want to vent.

Or, they’re looking for an old article. I recently listened to a voice mail from a woman in California who was searching for any articles about the death of her husband. He was killed in an accident in 1959.

Wish I could help, but it’s not possible. Our archives only go back as far as about 2004. Along those lines, my advice to readers is preserve your memories. Clip newspaper articles or preserve them electronically. We only have a limited amount of old newspapers in bound volumes, and we don’t have time to search extensively for articles.

We receive a lot of inquiries from readers wanting to know the best way to submit materials for publication, such as notices about fundraising drives, sports teams’ registration and student awards.

The best way to communicate with us is through email. Our general email address is The staff member who handles email will make sure it gets to the right editor.

Here are some other tips for getting materials published in a timely fashion:

• If you want to submit a photograph, make sure you send it in a JPEG format. Please don’t embed it in a word document; we may not be able to retrieve it. You may mail or drop off prints of pictures. We will try to save them, but we can’t guarantee we will return them.

• Please give us adequate notice if you want us to cover an event. We can’t cover an event if we are notified about it only hours before its scheduled time. However, we usually will accept pictures from the event that are submitted to us. Simply identify people in the photo, from left to right. First and last names.

But if there are a dozen people in the photo, just provide a general description of the event. The shorter, the better.

• Over the years, photographers have provided us great sunsets, wildlife and other feature photos. We publish such photos with the understanding that we can’t compensate the photographers, but will credit them for their shots in the photo captions.

Some of these photographers have won awards in Florida newspaper contests for their work. We are happy to submit their photos.

• We hate faxes, love email. That’s because we can copy and paste email, saving time in typing and editing.

• On deadline days, especially Mondays and Tuesdays, we may not have time to return your calls immediately. It’s easier to communicate through email.

• If you have opened a business, we will be glad to run a short announcement about it. If you want more free publicity for it, buy an ad.

• We usually don’t attend ribbon cuttings, unless somebody famous plans to attend.

The pope would qualify.

• Did I tell you we hate faxes?

• We will accept hand written letters to the editor, but it may take awhile for us to have them typed. See the note about faxes.

• If you are certain that you know the whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa and will give us the scoop, take me to him.

You provide the shovels.

Tom Germond is executive editor of Tampa Bay Newspapers. Email him at
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