On deadline


When she reads from the agenda that they met for a 10-minute executive session just before the meeting began, I write it big on the top of my notebook and circle it.

I sit up straighter, too.

I’d known for two days that a ruling was coming, had been made and sent, but they were denying its receipt. I figured it was in someone’s inbox, not yet read and disseminated to board members.

I presume that’s what she was talking about.

And when we make it through an hour and a half-long meeting, at the end, the solicitor pulls it out of his notebook.

What’s the point of knowing something first if you don’t get to report it first?

When I stand in front of the horse-shoe shaped table to ask her, the other two reporters are there, too. I don’t notice them at first but I turn when someone else speaks and see them, their pens scribbling down her answers to questions that I asked.

They were good quotes, too.

It means I can’t write the story until the morning, when I can call other people who’ve joined this particular fray. I start the story at night but leave it to finish in the morning.

And if Murphy isn’t out working his law again!

There’s something vague called a “mass casualty” on the 911 log that has all of us nervous; a stack of crimes from over the weekend; and a sentencing report I have to find the back story for.

And there’s roughly two and a half hours to do it in.

And the coroner won’t put up a release because there’s nothing new to add and state police sound tired and irritated when I call and by “mass casualty” they 911 operator meant one killed, two injured in a construction accident.

I jump between stories, slipping statements from a senator in to one, calling the fire chief for his details for the other, picking up my phone to a talkative representative again for the first.

I’m not sure how but it’s done by deadline.

I feel as though I should be allowed to go home now, at 10 a.m. It’s only three hours into the workday but it feels longer and I’ve done enough work for a day already.

And that’s the problem with a morning deadline. You spend so much focus and energy trying to get today’s paper out on time, that when the deadline is past and the day still looms long in front of you, you can’t seem to find motivation to start working on tomorrow’s paper.

Though you know tomorrow’s deadline will be worse if you don’t start working on it today.

So I pull together a few pieces for a follow up story for tomorrow, and call the pharmacy that’s closing, and type up those comments and watch the clock tick closer to 3.

The circled words still stand out of my notebook.

 

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2 Comments

Filed under Notebook sketches

2 responses to “On deadline

  1. LaVell Welborn

    Oh, Heather – what great experience you’re gaining! I have no doubt that someday you’ll write novels and be as well known as two other famous novelest who started out as reporters – Ernest Hemingway and Willa Cather.
    Keep doing what God has inspired you to do today, and tomorrow you’ll be so richly blessed for it!

  2. Lisa

    yikes, those were the days! seriously, after morning deadline it’s like you’ve already put in a full day!

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