We are in the midst of what is perhaps the busiest time of the year for the newsroom, in terms of the sheer number of events that we are committed to covering.
With the National Pike Festival and other local celebrations kicking off the spring season last weekend, our weekend schedule has gotten hectic. Saturdays, and our daily schedule, are crammed with upcoming events.
During this three-day weekend, we will cover as many Memorial Day observances as we can. That’s something we do every year because we think it’s important to print stories about events that honor those who served this country.
This week, the Maryland high school track and field championships were held at Morgan State University.
During the coming week, we’re looking at a local contestant in the National Spelling Bee, graduations — including eight high school graduations in Washington County alone, in two days — and the Western Maryland Blues Fest.
Trying to make sure we get to everything we feel we must cover can be a juggling act, with reporters shifting schedules to make it to as many events as we can, as efficiently as we can.
The thing about juggling acts is, if you get too many balls in the air, now and then you’re going to drop one.
Sometimes we miss an event, not because we don’t feel that it’s important, but because we literally have run out of available reporters and photographers.
Even when that happens, we still can get information about the missed event into the paper, with the help of event organizers.
All you need to do is email us information about the event — what it was, who held it, when and where it was held, and its purpose.
Include some details and, if it was a fundraiser, let us know how many people participated and how much was raised, if that information is available.
You might want to send along a photo from the event and some information for a caption, including the identities of those in the photo.
Fair warning: We will edit what you send us, both for length and to conform to Associated Press style. We do that with all submitted information as a matter of course, much the same as editors go through stories written by staff reporters.
If we make it to your event, don’t be surprised if the reporter or photographer is unable to stay for the whole thing. In some cases, that might be because they have other assignments to cover, so they must balance time spent at each place they go.
Night events have even more limitations simply because of the deadlines under which all newspapers work.
Before they leave for night assignments, reporters talk with the supervising editor to figure out how long they can stay at a given event without risking missing deadline. That can entail a lot of negotiating because none of us wants to give short shrift to activities we cover.
Don’t forget, when the reporter walks out of the room, he or she still has a story to write and file.
Then, the story must be edited by an editor and placed on a page by another editor, who writes a headline and, if necessary, tweaks it for length.
The projected length of that process dictates the time when a reporter must start writing. We frequently manage to cheat the deadline a little by writing at and filing from the place where the event is held, thereby cutting out travel time.
Providing us with information before the event is a help. The more we know ahead of time, the more information we can include in the story.
If, for instance, someone is being honored at a dinner, let us know. If it’s a surprise, we won’t let the cat out of the bag, not even on our website. But having that information can help us file a more complete story — by enabling the reporter to include the information in the story even if he or she can’t stay for the announcement.
At the very least, let us know somebody will be honored or a major announcement will be made. That way, we will know we missed something and can catch up the next day.
Practically speaking, there always will be limits on what we can do. Although I can’t promise we will make it to every event, meeting and activity, I can promise that we’ll keep giving it our best shot.
Linda Duffield is city editor of The Herald-Mail. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.