When my kid brother, Charles, graduated from journalism school several years ago, I presented him with a paperweight with a subtle reminder about his new career choice. Engraved in the red-glossed piece of metal were the words, “Deadline is inspiration in a hurry.”
I thought nothing summed up our chosen career paths more aptly. And today, as an online editor, Charles still keeps that paperweight on his desk. A sisterly reminder? Better yet, a gift from someone who’s been there, done that.
Deadlines don’t care if you have a blinding migraine. They don’t care if the sun is shining for the first time in two weeks and you’d rather be outside. They don’t care if your calendar lists a million things to do and only eight hours to do it. And deadlines really could care less if your computer had a sudden meltdown.
It’s a nature of this business to meet deadlines. I can’t just say at noon, “Oh well, I had enough. I’ll finish this tomorrow.” I work for a daily newspaper, meaning tomorrow’s paper has to be finished today and no amount of whining is going to stop it.
So when I was told last week that the Lifestyle section would have to shift deadlines to meet our press needs, I admit I was a little apprehensive. We aren’t just moving one deadline, we are shifting our entire week. That means no last-minute photo assignments being put in. We can’t wait until the last minute to file a story. Nor can we push the deadline in the hopes that last person will call. Sound like pressure? Well, sure, but you don’t go into journalism because you like things easy.
We have finished the first week in the pre-shifting days. Did we succeed? Not yet. And it was an unusual week because I had another mandatory project due by week’s end.
Will it go smoother next week? I’m hoping, but we have extra work because of the Monday holiday, so that means eight days of pages in five days. Am I worried? I have a strong team, but learning to do things an entire day ahead will be daunting.
By the first full week of June, I hope to have these new deadlines in place. Do I think we’ll succeed? It won’t be without a few hiccups, but I have faith in the Lifestyle team.
So what does that mean to our readers? I’m just asking for a little help for your friends.
We already plan about four weeks ahead for stories. That means, if you hope we can do a preview story of your event, you’ll have to contact me earlier.
If you have calendar listings, you’ll have to submit them sooner. We might not have the flexibility to get a notice in at the last minute as we once did. In most cases, the deadline will be three days before your regular deadline. To get your item to us in a speedy manner, go to allhagerstown.net and submit your listing or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We know this transition won’t be easy, but that’s why we have these earlier deadlines — so we can find that inspiration in a hurry.