Editorial and user content policy
localsecrets encourages general users to contribute content to the site. Registration is required before any content can be accepted. All users may also apply to join our virtual 'writer’s room', where they work with our editorial staff to contribute editorial articles, local reports, reviews and recommendations.
General user contributions
localsecrets encourages users to add comment, reviews and tips and alert us about misuse or errors via ‘problem?’. Anyone may also post an event or propose a new venue. We endeavour to vet all contributions and our policy is to publish all suitable content - whether criticism or praise. User contributions are posted with first name and final initial.
Response to comments, reviews and tips
Venues, locations, groups, authors of editorial content and other listed entities on localsecrets are encouraged to respond to user comment, review and tips, which may be brought to the attention of the subject in question. In some cases these may generate responses via localsecrets to the person who posted the comment – but in no case is the identity of the user making the comment revealed.
In rare cases, if a venue is unwilling to engage in open dialogue, then, at the discretion of localsecrets, all comments, reviews and tips, good or bad about that venue, will be removed from public display. A statement to this effect will be posted on the page. Comments, tips and reviews about the venue that continue to be posted may be visible to the venue, however.
Any subject of comment, venue or otherwise, may contact localsecrets to request a special 'response' be posted next to a user comment, review or tip. At the discretion of localsecrets, this will be added.
Content may not be posted by those who have clear conflicts of interest, including venue employees, owners, relatives of employees or owners or others whose viewpoints may be seen as biased. If it comes to the attention of editors that such comments have been posted, they will be removed.
Staff and commissioned content
Reviews, recommendations (critic’s choices), images and articles are produced by localsecrets staff and members of our writers room for the website and our email publications. This content aims to conform to a high standard of journalistic quality. Editorial content is always clearly differentiated from advertising content. These are our key editorial policies:
localsecrets reviews of venues are based on the experiences of our independent reviewers, who visit each establishment anonymously. No payment of any kind has secured a place in or influenced the selection of localsecrets review subjects. Furthermore, advertisers and establishments making commercial offers elsewhere on the website, or in any printed matter produced by localsecrets, have no control over editorial content nor have any been included because they chose to advertise.
Eating out and retail venue reviews
Reviews of eating out venues are only posted if in the reviewer's and editor's judgement, on balance, localsecrets can recommend the location. When we cannot recommend it, no staff review is posted.
localsecrets chooses eating out venues that offer clean, safe and welcoming environments. Where food is served we prize fresh ingredients, careful cooking, preparation with reasonable promptness and civility of service. Beyond that, we see good value, interesting character, attractive atmosphere and that extra touch of warmth that makes a difference.
Naturally, our views contain an element of subjectivity, but we try to judge quality fairly, using the criteria above and reflecting the multiple perspectives of our readers and web visitors.
Event listings policy
Editors list all suitable events of interest to readers, in as much as time and resources permit. They reserve the right to not list any item deemed inappropriate for editorial reasons, including listings submitted that appear mainly commercial or politically or religiously partisan.
The writer’s room
The writer’s room is for those who can make or aspire to produce professional content. We encourage contributions from journalists (or aspiring journalists) and experts of all kinds. Here’s how you can participate in the writer’s room. Content sent outside the writer room or otherwise unsolicited reviews, criticism or articles cannot be accepted.
localsecrets operates a system of vetting proposals. To get the best story ideas, we need writer and editor to work together. Writers need to come up with lots of great story ideas. Editors need to filter through the proposals and select the best and most appropriate ideas.
To get a brief, contributors therefore need to 'pitch' ideas to the editor. But don't just pitch one idea - pitch several, even a dozen at a time. We will not pass your ideas to others. Our aim is simply to find the idea most suited to us.
How to write a good pitch:
It can help to think of your pitch as three key elements: a subject, angle, timeliness and execution.
- The subject is what the piece is about.
- The angle is what you want to say about your subject, what you will demonstrate through your reporting – other words, the theme.
- Timeliness tells the editor why your idea is important now.
- The execution (or format) is a suggestion of how the piece would run in the magazine and how you plan to tell the story. Is this a profile or a first person experience? Is it more of a standard feature? A picture essay? Will you describe the action or let the participants do the talking? Make sure you give the editor a sense of how you will make the story engaging and what kind of information you think you can gather. Also mention if the piece would suit a existing regular slot or section for it? Does it work best as a list with subheads, or a written-through piece, or a picture essay?
After your pitch:
If all goes well, you should get a brief. This should outline exactly what the commissioning editor expects, and will typically include: word count, pay, deadline, execution/format, any things that should definitely be included (or not), and any additional information that’s needed (e.g. picture contacts).
We have a limited number of opportunities for young people to gain experience in digital journalism and editing. Apply by email to email@example.com
Entry level contributors
We welcome writers without previous or much experience. A trial assignment is often given. If this is published, it will come with a by-line (but no fee). After publication, further assignments may be made.
Writers with prior experience or those who have successfully published a trial commission are invited to pitch more ideas. They receive benefits and fees:
- For reviewers: press tickets and vouchers for events such as theatre, cinema, gigs, festivals, fashion shows etc. Where possible, we will offer two tickets per event/show, and in the case of restaurant reviews we offer a voucher towards a meal for two in lieu of payment.
- Access to the localsecrets writers’ gallery. Writers can publish an avatar, bio data about themselves and links to personal websites and blogs via our online gallery. This is a unique benefit for localsecrets contributors which gives writers a public platform from which to build a profile as a professional writer. We reserve the right to edit/remove links to writers’ personal or professional websites which are deemed inappropriate.
- Inclusion in social media campaigns / traffic sharing e.g. when tweeting contributions to our network of followers we may tag writers using their personal twitter handles.
- Writers who pitch news breaking stories / leading ideas to us first benefit from an enhanced fee per article.
Columnists/bloggers/specialist writers/expert critics
- Writers who commit to a weekly local report or monthly column in a specialist area or a regular event recommendation may be awarded titles e.g. ‘localsecrets Fashion Columnist‘; ‘localsecrets town/city blogger’; ‘localsecrets jazz critic’ in addition to the perks listed above.
- Correspondents for local areas typically start as regular contributors and are promoted into this role once they have demonstrated both good writing skills and expert knowledge of their local areas. Local correspondents commit to submitting a tailored package of writing on a monthly basis, which might include a mix of weekly recommendations of local events, local restaurant descriptions, preview articles, local report and features for a pre-arranged fee.
- In addition to an agreed fee, all correspondents have access to the localsecrets writers’ gallery and may be awarded titles such as 'correspondent for (town)' or 'Cinema critic'.
Terms and conditions of editorial contributions
A contribution must meet the criteria for acceptance. Revisions may be requested and Local Secrets Ltd is under no obligation to accept or (if payment has been agreed) pay for material submitted if it falls short of the agreed criteria. Whether work meets this our criteria is up the editor. No kill fees are paid.
Once an assignment is accepted, contributors will be notified and they will be paid the work at the agreed rate within 30-60 days.
In cases where a deadline has been set, the contributor will not be paid unless he/she meets the deadline.
Local Secrets Ltd buys all copy rights and publication rights for use online and in any of its print publications in perpetuity. This means material must not have been published elsewhere before being submitted to Local Secrets and may be republished by Local Secrets at any time in the future without further payment to the author, who relinquishes all rights to the material.
The author warrants that the article he/she submits will be original, that it will contain nothing objectionable, obscene or libellous, that any illustration/photography has been made without infringing the rights of any third party, that statements purporting to be fact are true and that opinions expressed are honestly held.
The author will indemnify Local Secrets Ltd against all claims, costs, demands and expenses whosoever arising from the breach of alleged breach of the foregoing warranties.
Local Secrets Ltd reserves the right to make changes which it considers necessary to the work and to that extent the author waives the moral rights to which he/she may at any time be become entitled under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act of 1988.