Wick Communications

Archive for the ‘Deadlines’ Category

Keep your chin up

In Deadlines on May 11, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Keeping a positive mindset is incredibly difficult to do when the pressure to succeed feels like the open ocean around you.

Those are the words of Julie Zhuo, one of my favorite bloggers and an all-around interesting person. She is the VP of design at Facebook, among other things. Last week, she was addressing morale and how to keep going when things are hard. When is that not a relevant topic?

Zhuo has three suggestions and none of them are groundbreaking, but all of them bear repeating: Accentuate the positive, step back when it feels like you are rushing forward, and ask for support when you need it.

She cautions us against overdoing what I call urgency mandates. “Good, creative work doesn’t come out of fear of failure or pressure to perform,” she writes. “In fact, you tend to favor more conservative ideas and make compromises that water down the soul of what you are trying to do.”

Deadline pressure can be helpful, in the right context. It’s great to have a goal and to know that your work is important to the overall effort. This work we do is our livelihood. We can’t afford less than your best. However, it is unhealthy both personally and to the organization if you are overwhelmed by the pressure of the job. Unrelenting pressure to perform might work when you are shipping widgets or manufacturing thingamajigs, but it will not motivate people in creative professions like journalism. … Read the rest of this entry »

The page they threw out

In Deadlines on November 10, 2016 at 3:42 pm

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So, this is the sports section front that almost was. Perhaps you have seen it.

As the World Series began, New York Times sports editor Jason Stallman commissioned a freelance artist to remake a classic Norman Rockwell painting from 1948 called “The Dugout,” only this time the artist would paint in the faces of current Cubs. Conveniently, 1948 was the last year the Cleveland Indians had won the World Series.

Trouble is, those lovable losers from Chi-town won!

Stallman and his team admitted their foiled plan online on Saturday. Perhaps predictably, some Cubs fans took offense. “Classic New York arrogance,” Kevin Shanley commented. “Somehow they can never celebrate and rejoice in another cities success.” Someone named Dex wrote, “What a great way for Cubs fans to celebrate your wrongness.” … Read the rest of this entry »

The Duke, deadlines and you

In Deadlines on May 22, 2014 at 2:56 pm

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Do you work better on deadlines? I do, and I suspect that is one of the things that drew me to this business. Instinctively, I think I knew that journalism was a good place for a slightly scattered, hard working, nosy guy who didn’t always study until the all-nighter the day before the big test.

I’m in pretty good company. Take Duke Ellington. He was unquestionably one of America’s greatest composers and one of the most prolific, too. In his memoir, Music is my Mistress, Ellington wrote about his own working style. He said he didn’t long for free time in which to fold note after note into masterpieces like “Black, Brown and Biege.”

“I don’t need time,” he wrote. “What I need is a deadline.”

Deadlines have a way of focusing attention. I know I feel a sense of urgency, a physical thing, that can be either debilitating or exhilarating, depending on my surroundings and my support. Reining in that feeling is a delicate thing. So how do you make things happen on deadline without locking up like a dear in the headlights?

Keep perspective. No one ever actually died from missing a newspaper deadline. At least not that I know of. It’s important to hit deadlines; missing them is not the end of the world. Overplay the importance of a few moments and you run the risk of letting the moment overwhelm you.

Ask for help. No man is an island, particularly on deadline. Marshal your forces. Make sure everyone has an achievable goal. Work together and not at odds with one another. … Read the rest of this entry »

A smooth election night

In Deadlines on October 17, 2008 at 9:21 am

If you’ve been in this business for more than a couple weeks, chances are you have been through a political season or two. And over that time, I’m sure you have developed some schemes for lightening the load on election night, which is traditionally one of the most daunting – and most invigorating – evenings of the year.

While most of us have been through it before, the game has changed a lot in recent years. Elections managers in most places have embraced the Web. Consequently, often it isn’t necessary to have a reporter at the elections office any more. And electronic voting machines and counting mechanisms have sped up the process in some places and slowed it significantly in others. There are some things you can do to ease what can be a long night for everyone from the phone operator to the press staff.

Plan ahead. This seems obvious enough and I’m sure everyone puts some thought into election night ahead of time. If you are planning a side rail with election results, design it a week or more before the big day. Make sure you have mugs of all the candidates… Read the rest of this entry »