My Fave April SmartBrief Stories

“Even though the local news business has declined, the appetite for news has not.”

The above quote is something I read on LinkedIn yesterday. It was posted by the International City/County Management Association, as an intro to ICMA’s share of an article by “Governing.” The article discusses how local engagement is declining as community members turn more frequently to national news and media rather than local newspapers.

One of the things I enjoy about editing nonprofit sector newsletters for SmartBrief is the opportunity to give the stories from some of those local newspapers an opportunity to be shared more widely with the reading public.

Although this month’s favorites don’t focus too heavily on local outlets, they are always at the forefront of my mind. I try to use them when I can, because they matter.

Reserve Officers Association

This story in the ROA SmartBrief brought home the way administrative decisions touch individual lives. I remember thinking, “of course someone should advocate for a change.”

Family members who are survivors of active-duty military service members are eligible for scholarship assistance. Children who are survivors of reservists and National Guard members are not. There is proposed legislation to change that.

I hope it works.

National Emergency Number Association

This story is about a law (the “move over” law in Illinois, also known as “Scott’s law). It talks about how — despite a law requiring motorists to leave the lane open next to first responders (and others) working on the road shoulder with their lights deployed — three people died in 2019 and 17 troopers had their cars or bodies struck by motorists evading that law.

A sheriff’s deputy quoted in the story told a motorist he stopped during an operation set up to inform motorists about the law, “We want to come home to our families, too.”

So many stories come back to family, don’t they?

SmartBrief April 2019 Wrapup
Photo Credit: Road Safety at Work

International City/County Management Association

My choice to include this story in the ICMA SmartBrief was born in Lyft as I was leaving the SmartBrief office in Washington, D.C. and heading back to the airport.

Me to Lyft driver: “I like your music.”

Lyft driver to me: “This is the music they tried to get rid of in DC.”

And so a story was born … about how city council members joined residents of the Shaw neighborhood in D.C. in a rally aiming to persuade T-Mobile to allow a small business to resume playing go-go music on external speakers as it had for years, a practice T-Mobile had stopped as it cited complaints of new residents. After the rally, the collection of more than 60,000 petition signatures and a Twitter campaign around the hashtag #DontMuteDC, T-Mobile said the music will resume.

Music tells people’s stories.

National Association of Social Workers

On its surface, this story about how students at a K-8 school created a makerspace for children at a domestic violence shelter sounded like many of the stories we feature in this newsletter. Often, a social worker is involved in facilitating a great idea and helping the participants understand the broader picture and the mental health context.

Here’s what got me:

We don’t have a special vehicle for the program, so we travel separately and the supplies we bring are restricted to the dimensions of my Ford Fiesta. ~ Innovation space coordinator Greg McDonough

People helping people do it with duct tape, gumption and the tenacity to get blood out of turnips sometimes.

Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honor Society

Sigma Xi is currently the first newsletter I edit every day. If I were choosing a version of coffee to represent this brief, it’s like starting every morning with the double espresso information equivalent. Space, animals, physics, chemistry and more.

My April Sigma Xi highlight, though, isn’t a technical scientific fact. The story itself, about a study that examined the microbes around an underground fire in Pennsylvania, is pretty cool.

But did you know ZIP Codes can be revoked? “All but a handful of the town folk had fled when the government revoked Centralia’s postal code in 2002,” says the article.

Now we know. Hang on to your ZIP Codes, folks!

UN Wire

World Immunization Week occurred in April, so cue up this Shot at Life champion’s favorite cause!

The UN Wire newsletter covered immunizations (measles on April 17 , UNICEF’s #VaccinesWork campaign on April 19 along with malaria on April 22 and April 26.)

Capped off with the Quote of the Day on April 26.

April 2019 SmartBrief Stories


Last but not least (as far as newsletter stories go), here is a thought on my favorite BoardSource story for April. For BoardSource, every issue has at least one, and usually several, stories about big money donors.

For example, BB&T and SunTrust Banks are each donating $15 million to the Foundation for the Carolinas to help alleviate homelessness in Charlotte, N.C.

Of course that type of generosity will (hopefully) help solve some of our world’s big problems.

BUT, my favorite story was one I could relate to and even see myself doing. It was about how the tent cards at board members’ places can be used wisely. Although for obvious reasons, the front of the card needs to have the board member’s name on it, Bob Harris notes the other side of the card is “an ideal location for the mission that should frame nearly every discussion.”

I realize this sounds like such a minor thing. What if the back of the card just repeats the board member’s name? What if it’s left blank?

Ultimately, I believe we need reminders of our mission. I believe details matter. Pay attention to the details and you’ve taken a step toward fulfilling the bigger goals.

The “While You Were Working” News Quiz

When I was in the D.C. office in April, I had the torture opportunity to take the “While You Were Working” news quiz. You may know that I am a contributing editor to WYWW, but having my knowledge tested without being able to Google answers was a whole different experience! Here it is; you can check out how I did.

My First Original Post

April was a big month. I published my first blog post under my SmartBrief byline (and a small personal celebration ensued!).

It’s about how animals can help elderly patients heal. Take a look, then pet a pup!

April 2019 SmartBrief Wrapup

About working at SmartBrief

When I attended employee orientation last month, I learned more about the other divisions of our organization. In addition to editorial, there’s advertising, IT, marketing and sales.

wrote in more detail about my experience as a SmartBrief employee here and I invite you to peruse this list of openings if you’re in DC and being a part of our team may make sense for you (or if you know someone in DC who is seeking a great opportunity). As always, I’m happy to answer questions and provide more information about the process.

Here are the advertised open positions as of 5/5/19:

If you are interested in applying, please list me as your referrer or email me so we can discuss further.

To Recap

To subscribe to one (or more) SmartBrief newsletters, including the “end of the work day” While You Were Working, for which I am a contributing editor, click here.

If you aren’t in a subscribing mood, you can still keep up with us on FacebookSmartBrief TwitterLeadership SmartBrief TwitterLinkedIn and SmartBrief Instagram and Life at SmartBrief Instagram. (There’s also a SmartBrief feature at The Muse.)

Thanks for reading!

*Note: My opinions about the stories are my personal viewpoint; they do not reflect an endorsement by my employer.

2 thoughts on “My Fave April SmartBrief Stories

    • YAY! Curious which ones appeal to you the most. It’s really hard to choose just one per brief.

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