Standard-Journal receives 42 ‘It Can Wait’ editorial entries

  • Feb 25, 2016

Cara Neil, Communications Director

When the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association and Foundation teamed up with AT&T to host a statewide “It Can Wait” editorial contest, the goal was to encourage member newspapers to have local students explain why texts while driving can wait. While the response for this contest was impressive statewide, the Standard-Journal (Milton) engaged its student community more than any other member.

The Standard-Journal received 42 entries in its editorial contest, the most of any participating newspaper. With a circulation of just under 3,900, the Standard-Journal is not a large newspaper by any means, however its connection with its community is obviously strong.

After Harry Hartman at the Gettysburg Times (a sister paper of the Standard-Journal) encouraged Standard-Journal Publisher Amy Moyer to participate in the “It Can Wait” campaign, she assigned it to one of her staffers, Kevin Mertz. From there, she said, he took it and ran.

Mertz reached out to all of the school districts in their circulation area. Although not every school participated, most did. The PNA Foundation provided $100 matching prizes to newspapers, but the Standard-Journal went a step further and awarded prizes for second and third place as well.

After hearing about the amount of participation in the contest, the sales team suggested selling ads and creating a tab for the entries. Moyer liked the idea, not just because of the revenue, but because it was a great way to showcase the students’ work and share the message of the editorials.

“Our major sponsors of the tab were the fire department and the local ambulances and emergency responders,” Moyer said. “The local police said they’d like to be involved if we do it again. One school district with a drivers ed program also told us they would like to be more involved.”

Determining a winner was the last step in the contest. “We asked Rick Blair, who is the Public Information Officer for the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Safety Press Operator at PennDOT, Kimberly Smith, to choose a winner from the entries,” Moyer said. “They each chose a different winner. So, we had the newsroom choose between the two.”

Looking ahead to the next “It Can Wait” contest, Moyer said the Standard-Journal would definitely participate again. With one year under their belts, they know who to contact and who is likely to get more involved next time.

Moyer’s advice to others participating in this contest is to start early and appoint one person to take charge.

The Standard-Journal ran the tab on a Tuesday and featured each entry, as well as a photo of the writer.

“It Can Wait” is a national movement urging drivers to visit, where they can pledge to keep their eyes on the road, not on their phone, and share their pledges via Twitter (#ItCanWait) and Facebook. Since its launch in 2010, the campaign has helped increase awareness of the dangers of distracted driving to about 90 percent for all audiences surveyed and inspired more than 7.2 million people to take the “It Can Wait” pledge.

The PNA, founded in 1925, is the nonprofit trade association for print and digital media in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Its mission is to advance the business interests of Pennsylvania news media organizations and to promote a free and independent press. It has more than 300 newspaper and media-related members, including daily, weekly, and college newspapers and online-only publications.

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