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A MANAGEMENT CASE STUDY: DEALING WITH DEADLINES
Deadlines are a reality in any business or organization. Maybe you have three
weeks to write copy and compile it into a brochure for the client or three months
to organize the annual fundraising ball. Having worked with both daily deadlines
and longer term projects, I am cool under pressure and well qualified to meet and
manage deadlines individually and as part of a team.
React to breaking news and produce the best possible report by the deadline.
Strategy, tactics and execution
Newspaper people are accustomed to dealing with deadlines, but here is an
extreme example as interim sports editor at the Tampa Bay Times of how my team
pulled together with an amazing deadline performance.
I was watching television with my family when my phone buzzed at 10:21 p.m.
with an email. I read the message, turned to my wife and said, “The Bucs just fired
Lovie Smith.” Quickly, I tried to reach the beat writer who covers the Tampa Bay
Buccaneers. His phone was busy, a good sign that he was on it. Next I called the
editor in charge of our copy desk and night operation in Sports. I alerted him that
we’d have a news story for 1A and an opinion column for the Sports front. Next, I
called our Sports columnist. I told him I needed a column, and I needed it in about
45 minutes. The night editor texted about what to do with the first edition, which
needed to go to the printing plant at 10:40. I told them to put in a one or two
paragraph bulletin and let it go.
The printing plant agreed to give us a 15-minute deadline extension, so we had
until 11:45 for the late edition. Designers, editors and writers all flew through all
the moving parts needed to remake the section. It wasn’t a matter of just subbing
one story for another, the entire front page was changing, which affected story
continuations on many inside pages. It was a team effort, and our team was
experienced and well trained.
As you see above, the Sports section was transformed. The front of the A section
had a similar makeover. The story and column made the late edition, which goes
to subscribers in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. A later “stop press” update
even made nearly 65,000 papers. Paul Tash, chairman and CEO of the Times ,
commended us for delivering “excellent detail and analysis -- all well before the
light of day.”
“To pack so much splendid work into such a tight window marks a talented
organization that is committed to excellence,” Tash continued. “If Lovie Smith
ran his team with as much success as the clock was winding down, the Bucs would
be in the playoffs and he would still be coach.”