Observer Editorial Policy

By James J. Napoli

One thing I learned in the near-half century that I spent writing for a living is that every writer—no matter how talented, brilliant, or informed—needs an editor.
    I’ve worked in journalism, academe, and government, and I have been saved innumerable times by editors in each of those areas from propagating errors of fact, spelling, grammar, and logic. Editors have saved me from getting mucked up in legal swamps. They have saved me from my own rhetorical excesses and from gratuitously making enemies among my readers.
    They have helped me restructure my writing to deliver more compelling stories and arguments. They have made me a better writer.
    This is not to say that I have never encountered tin-eared dunderheads among editors or that I have always taken kindly to nit-picking of my peerless prose. But that comes with the territory, and I live with it. In my experience, those writers who complain most about being edited are those writers most desperately in need of editors. 
    This is all by way of preface to editing at the new online incarnation of the Munjoy Hill Observer, which one local media professor once wryly described to me as the New York Times of neighborhood publications. The Observer is looking for writers to contribute news items and opinion pieces on the events and people on Munjoy Hill and on other developments in the city or state that might affect the neighborhood. It might save everybody a lot of grief if the would-be writer discussed the topic with the editor—me—before actually doing the work. And it would help to smooth the publication process to keep the Observer’s editorial guidelines in mind:

  • Relevance: The Observer is a micro-publication covering a small neighborhood in a small city. 
  • Respect: Any statement that defames another person in word or representation will not be published.
  • Civility: The focus of the article should be on the issue at hand, and the writer should not indulge in personal attacks.
  • Accuracy: The writer is primarily responsible for fact-checking his or her own submission.

The editor will use the Associated Press Stylebook to settle style questions and impose some professional consistency on the Observer’s prose. The Observer will edit for length, repetition, redundancy, grammar, spelling, and clarity. The editor will discuss any proposed substantive changes with the writer, who will make every effort to recall where we started: Every writer needs an editor.

Events Policy

To submit your event for listing in the Observer Events section, please contact us at or The Munjoy Hill Observer reserves the right to edit any submission for clarity, space or content, as well as to decline its posting. Events should be open to the public. Where any ticket price or entry fee is included, advertising rates may apply regardless of the submitting organization's non-profit status. We apologize in advance but we cannot list events of a personal nature such as yard sales, parties or private fundraisers.