Larson Newspapers Advertising Director Kyle Larson and I revealed what goes on behind the scenes at our three community newspapers last week during the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute’s new series, Lunch & Learn.

Our readers know we send a reporter and photographer out to cover meetings, events and human interest stories, but they wanted to know how we pick which we’ll cover, our policies and decision-making processes for news releases and letters to the editor.

We explained the process of producing the newspaper from the sale of an advertisement to the delivery of the final product, and people were surprised at the amount of work our 40-plus employees put into each issue.

They were also interested in how we select which letters to the editor and press releases will appear, an aspect of our newspaper directly affecting many of them.

Since all of our readers couldn’t make it the presentation, I will share some of the facts here we provided those who did attend.

A brief history of Larson Newspapers reveals it is one of the oldest businesses still around. The Sedona Red Rock News was founded in 1963 by Robert and Loretta Larson as a free, eight-page tabloid size weekly newspaper. In 1967, the newspaper went from free to paid.

The Larsons expanded their business in 1985 purchasing The Camp Verde Journal, and again in 1988 establishing the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

Today, Larson Newspapers publishes the News twice a week and the Journal and Journal Extra once a week, along with The Scene and various special publications throughout the year.

Today our newspapers are approximately 50 percent advertising and 50 percent editorial. The size of each newspaper is determined by the amount of advertising sold.

Each story is read at least three times before the newspaper is printed, as are the photo captions.

Letters run in the newspaper based on the date we received them. Press releases are selected to fit in holes left on a page after advertising and stories are put in place. Releases of the proper size are then narrowed down based on urgency.

Our goal with each of our newspapers is to provide Verde Valley communities with the latest local news and sales while boosting the local economy.