Tag Archives: deadline writing

Management on deadline

Wednesday night, we had Student Government elections, aka deadline nightmare.

To combat that, we had an extended deadline of 2 a.m., an hour past our normal deadline. We had bloggers, reporters and editors at the event — all waiting for the results.

And those results were not available by press time.

So, what do you do? Well, you write the editorial on voter turnout. You run a vague cartoon.

But that wasn’t the main problem — the problem was getting people to turn in those stories on time when they were waiting for the results and the editor in chief and I were in the newsroom.

Things I learned:

  • Let people know that deadlines are inflexible. No, we can’t wait another 15 minutes. We need it now. Remind them of this every five minutes.
  • Have everyone’s cell phone number. Cell phone batteries die — call the person the reporter is with, whether it’s an editor or photographer.
  • Always leave time to edit, even if it’s only five minutes. We were saved a couple factual errors by on-deadline editing.
  • Be ready to change focus at any minute. Our reporters did a great job of changing the focus of their print story from results to voter turnout in about 20 minutes. Have story outlines written for every possible scenario.
  • Be firm — then be nice. Feel free to get scary on deadline, but after it’s over, make sure to commend people for their hard work. After all, another paper goes out tomorrow.

Good thing the Internet exists — we ran the updated results story online at about 4 a.m. after the results were announced.

And hey, if you don’t make deadline, there are always other stress management options …

Me on deadline, photo by Kristin Bjornsen.

Me on deadline, photo by Kristin Bjornsen.

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Filed under Editing, Managing