A deadline is a terrible thing to waste

Working for a weekly newspaper, I’m lucky to have a weekly deadline, though it seems that those Tuesday nights are every bit as stressful as every night in a traditional newsroom.

Over the course of my career, I’ve been challenged by my editor, who cut his teeth in the daily newspaper arena, to work as if I had a daily deadline.

It’s an exercise that would 1.) push me to write quicker and not agonize over the placement of every word; 2.) help me transition, should the opportunity arise, to a daily or an even more fast-paced work environment; 3.) not rely so much on my recorder, and 4.) in writing faster, I could then write more.
And we all know that writing more means more bylines, which is always good to have!

The first few times I was given a quickly looming deadline was as hard and nervewracking as expected, but as time went on, I’ve been able to turn around articles on a dime, and it’s been a good feeling to know I could.

In the past, I’ve always transcribed almost every word from the interviews I record – I never want to miss anything that might be good for the article. Recording is a great tool and a great “just in case” backup to the notes I type during the interview.
Plus, I really like having recordings of some of the great people I’ve been able to talk to over the past six years!

But I’ve also found that I generally spend too much time transcribing, something that is pretty much one of the most annoying parts of being a journalist.

I did a little experiment last week when I did two interviews for a story I needed to turn around tout de suite. Both clocked in at more than 20 minutes, and both people had a lot of interesting things to say, but they also said a lot that didn’t really have anything to do with the general direction of the article. 

I listened back to as much of both interviews as I could, but didn’t stay married to my recorder. I’d listen and write at the same time, and I think it worked out really well.

I was glad that I met the latest challenge I gave myself – especially because we all know a deadline is a terrible thing to waste.



About nikkimmascali

I am an editor, writer and New Yorker who has ink for blood and the blog name + tattoo to prove it. Also of note: I follow more dogs than people on Instagram. This is my blog about reading, writing and absolutely no 'rithmetic because I am horrendous at math.
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