In January 2004 I asked newsroom trainers to share their No. 1 tips for publication in The Write Way. The question was simple: Do you have one tip that you'd like to pass on to reporters?

There were many responses. Some offered simple tips. Others offered tips you may not have previously considered. Here's a sampling:

1. Look at the record. Yeah, it sounds painfully obvious, but a hell of a lot of "journalism" is being perpetrated these days by people who have NOT followed these steps. Les Alexander, enterprise/investigative team leader, News & Record, Greensboro, North Carolina

2. Write as you report. It will improve both your writing and your reporting. Steve Buttry, national correspondent, writing coach, Omaha World Herald, Nebraska (now with API)

3. Read everything. Glenn Proctor, The Star-Ledger, New Jersey

4. Read your own newspaper front to back. That includes the public service ads and classified sections. Reading the paper online will never be able to replace actually sitting down with the paper like most of your readers do every morning or evening. Pay particular attention to those little news briefs to mine large, trend stories and please read your own stories with an eye toward improving each one. Tamara O'Shaughnessy, managing editor, The Times of Northwest Indiana

5. Identify the listening posts in your community. These are the places you can go to find out what people are interested in reading and are talking about. Spend time every week just talking to people, at a local restaurant, the lunchroom at the county building, at the barbershop or at the supermarket. Tamara O'Shaughnessy, managing editor, The Times of Northwest Indiana

6. Are you working on stories or story IDEAS? On any well-considered enterprise or feature story, a reporter out to be able to sit down and write 10 inches before he does all the final interviewing. Yes, the numbers and quotes and so on won't be there, but the basic issues, concepts, and viewpoints can be spelled out. If you can't do this, then you have story IDEAS that should be continued to be researched until there is enough info to make well-reasoned assignments. Brian J. O'Connor, Deerfield Beach, Florida

7. Be a self-starter.R. Thomas Berner, Professor emeritus of journalism and American studies, Pennsylvania State University

8. Know who's affected. The best and still the most important yardstick is how will the issue affect people. Once a reporter has an operational knowledge of how it will affect people, then it will be easier for them to explain the what, where, who, when and why of it. Nathan Alcantara, Philippines Information Agency newscoach; correspondent, Philippines Daily Inquirer

9. Make that one extra phone call to that one extra source.Bruce Corcoran, managing editor, Chatham Daily News, Canada

10. Doublecheck. Triplecheck. It will save you from numbers that don't add up, to names that are misspelled. Gregg McLachlan, associate managing editor, Simcoe Reformer, Canada