Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Avoiding Disaster 101: The Importance of Getting Deadlines

So for the past six weeks or so, my internship has consisted largely of preliminary research – basically looking into stories and writing memos about what I find so editors can decide if the stories are worth pursuing for future issues. Sometimes I write lists of things to be made into graphics. But the point is, for the most part, I’m researching unscheduled, tentative stories, so everything is just sort of ongoing.

Imagine my surprise, then, when during a meeting I just happened to decide to attend I heard the editors discuss one of my stories, which, apparently, is scheduled for the December issue. And, apparently, the deadline for the December issue is next week. Whoa.

Now, obviously, this is awesome, because it means I’m going to be in print. Or at least, my research is going to be in print. Turns out one of the stories I was doing preliminary research for isn't so preliminary after all. The problem, though, is I had no idea this story was scheduled, or due anytime soon. I had actually thought it was one of the more tentative ones, so I had put it pretty low on my priority list and had been focusing on other things.

I rushed back to my office after the meeting and ditched everything else I was working on to finish researching this story, which I managed to pull together in about a day. I was frustrated, though, because I really felt like I could have done a better job with more time. But at the same time, I’m so excited to be in print, even if it is just as a research credit.

And it was a good lesson, too. I had assumed my editor would tell me if something I was working on was urgent, and it seems my editor had sort of assumed I understood the deadlines and production schedule (which I don’t, at all). So now I know. When I get an assignment, I ask about deadlines immediately so we’re all on the same page. Good lesson to learn with three weeks left, right?

What about you, Edsters? Any near crises you avoided?

See you next Wednesday,

Edit intern

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