Article Summary: Deadline Reporting

Newspapers first became big because of their deadline reporting. That is what newspapers built their reputations on initially and that is why readers came to love newspapers originally. That is where they got all their major breaking news from and where they got all their information from. Nowadays, all that has changed with the introduction of radio, television, and the internet. Now, the newspaper is usually the last one to report an event, only because it comes out once a day. Because of that, now newspapers have to find new and interesting information that readers will not be able to find anywhere else. If newspapers can not find that kind of information, then readers will just be reading what they already know and will soon lose interest in that newspaper. That is why deadline reporting has become so important to the success of newspapers. Without it and local reporting, newspapers would most likely be extinct by now. But newspapers have always found a way to adopt and evolve to the ever changing world. That is why I feel newspapers will always be around and will always be read, thanks to stories and readers like these.

One of the better examples of this was found in a recent article written this past Sunday by Charles Babington, a member of the Associated Press, in his article on the new government bailout rescue plan (http://www.charlotteobserver.com/100/story/219631.html). On a quick deadline, Babington had to write about how the main points on the new plan had been agreed upon and that the plan itself was expected to be approved very soon afterward. The key to this article is that Babington was able to get some good details and quotes from some powerful people, including Presidential candidates Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain. Getting quotes from people and detailed information such as “the government would purchase mortgage-backed securities and other bad debts held by banks and other investors. The money should help troubled lenders make new loans and keep credit lines open. The government would later try to sell the discounted loan packages at the best possible price” are the key to the success of these kinds of articles. It is also vital that this information be posted up as soon as possible, because the newer kinds of media (television, radio, and internet) will have this information up within the hour, if not even quicker than that. It is also important to finish the article on a strong quote as Babington did, quoting Senator Judd Gregg talking about how taxpayers will win out in the end.

Sports are the best example of deadline reporting and how much it can affect one type of writing. Fans want to know as much about the game as they can as soon as they can. As a former sports reporter, I can attest to this. There were nights were I would have one hour after the event I was covering ended to get to a computer and write up a story. A good sports story I found recently was written by Robbi Pickeral of the Raleigh News & Observer covering the UNC-Miami (Fl.) football game this past Saturday (http://www.charlotteobserver.com/423/story/218511.html). Sports fans love hearing about what goes on on the field. For example, Pickeral starts the story with: “Fewer than three minutes remained, North Carolina was trailing Miami by three points at Dolphin Stadium, and the coaches were yelling instructions at backup quarterback Cameron Sexton from the sidelines…‘Will someone please tell them to stop?’ the junior says he calmly told his teammates as they huddled. ‘They act like I haven’t been here before’.” Hearing stories like that about players is something the reader loves to hear about because it is something they will never hear on television or radio. If one is able to get that kind of information in a short time span, then they will be one of the best deadline reporters out there.

Another good example of deadline reporting comes from Patrick McGreevy of the Los Angeles Times. On September 28, 2008, he wrote an article detailing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signing of 10 wildfire prevention bills as well as 104 others (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-arnold28-2008sep28,0,793265.story). Governor Schwarzenegger talks about the recent destruction California has had this year, including having over 2,000 fires destroy 1.2 million acres, and how these new bills will help prevent another terrible fire season like this one. McGreevy is also about to talk about many new bills that Governor Schwarzenegger both approved and vetoed. It is a lot like the town hall story that I did earlier this semester for this course. Stories like this are important to be done on a deadline because newspapers want to put up theses stories as soon as possible because it is something their readers are very interested in and want to read immediately. These kinds of stories are crucial to the success of newspapers, particularly in small towns, and without it, newspapers would have died out a while ago.

Breaking news stories are an important part of deadline reporting, but also a tough one for most newspapers because 95% of the time, they are the last of the major media outlets to cover the event. These are probably the hardest stories for a journalist to write, because much of the information is already out there and the writer is expected to provide the reader with information they did not know beforehand or give them a new point of view into something they couldn’t know about before. Paul Newman’s recent death was one of those kinds of stories and Lynn Smith of the Los Angeles Times did a great job covering the event and telling Newman’s life story (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-newman28-2008sep28,0,7543479.story). On top of this, she included some videos, links to photo slideshows about Paul Newman, and even a poll about Newman’s movies. It is a great example of multiplatform journalism and the article itself is a very good one. Smith does an excellent job of letting the reader into the mind of life of one of the most famous Hollywood actors of all time. It is an amazing profile on Paul Newman and was done on a strict deadline because this is such a big story. It is very impressive that someone was able to write this good of an article in such a short time span.

Finally, the last deadline reporting article comes from the New York Times and writer Jim Rutenberg. He was assigned to write a reaction article to the Presidential debates that were held in Oxford, Mississippi on the campus of Ole Miss (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/28/us/politics/28react.html?_r=1&ref=us&oref=slogin). Rutenberg also included a few multimedia features to his article which of course can only help make his article better. Rutenberg does a good job of breaking down the debate and getting good quotes from both parties on the American political scene. He is able to get into the minds of the Democratic and Republican parties and dissect how they think the debates went and was able to this while under the pressure of a deadline, which makes it all that much more impressive. To be able to do something like that is quite a talent and makes Mr. Rutenberg a great journalist, hence why he was hired by the New York Times and why he was assigned to cover the Presidential debates.

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