Working on A Deadline

Journalism is not ruled by the pen or the personal computer.  Rather, it is ruled by the clock.  This gimpy, three-armed demon may seem harmless enough but with a deadline looming, it can become your worst nightmare.

Even with several weeks of time to complete a story, like was the case recently, that deadline can creep up on you and become a matter of hours in no time.  I am often the victim of such procrastination but not always.  Contacting individuals and scheduling interviews can either be simple or a devious game of telephone tag.

If your story is dependent on setting interviews and speaking with experts of a certain field, the completion of a story by deadline is no longer in your hands.  Sure you can continue to call and leave voicemails, but when no return contact is made it severely handicaps your ability to complete the story.

I made several phone calls to the health center and wellness center in order to schedule interviews.  When no response came back from the health center and my interview with wellness came on the deadline day itself, I started to sweat.

Thankfully enough, Sherri Darrow, director of Wellness Services, gave me a great interview and I was also able to use a very enlightening conversation with a friend to write my story.

The points or questions I’m raising are:

  • What do you do when all substantial sources of information fall through?
  • When do you feel comfortable having all the information you need to write a story?
  • What skills or strategies do you use to ensure a story is completed on a deadline?

As the clock waned late on a Wednesday night, these were the questions running through my mind.  I finally finished early the next morning.  With a weary grin and bloodshot eyes I placed my paper upon the desk.  “But wait,” I said, “does anyone have a stapler?”



One response to “Working on A Deadline

  1. Content: 4

    Deadline writing is hard, yes, but Assignment 1 should not have been a deadline assignment. That is part of the lesson. Reporters jump on stories the minute they get them so they have enough time just in case sources fall through or info is hard to get.

    In some cases, an editor will push back a deadline (on a feature or important investigative piece) if the reporting is not complete. I often would keep stories to myself until much of the research was done so that I knew what I had when I presented the idea to the editor. When an editor hears a story idea, the first thing she wants is to know when the piece will be ready. So reporters do protect themselves. On the other hand, reporters also have to explain why they are spending all their time on the waterfront or in the library or wherever they are trying to get info, so sometimes a reporter will have to talk about a story before it’s researched.

    Today, with the 24/7 news cycle, reporters are presenting half-baked stories all the time. Information is getting out, the news hole is filled, but at what cost? Good fodder for class discussion.

    Links: 2 You could have found something better here. This has little value for a reader.
    Grammar: 3 (although there are some mistakes and some poorly-constructed phrases)

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