Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Danger of the Deadline

Sara Shookman

Deadline: the latest time or date by which something could be completed – as Bernie so lovingly reminds Henry as he waltzes into the 3 o’clock meeting in the feature film The Paper. As if Henry didn’t know. For the journalist, deadlines are a love-hate relationship.

Meeting Deadlines
The deadline is the finish line. At ten minutes ‘till, it’s a burden weighing you down. Making it is a race to the end. As soon as it passes, it’s an adrenaline rush and a weight lifted until embarking on the next project. The Paper examines the power of the deadline and its role in ethical decisions.

When Henry attempts to stop the presses, Alicia doesn’t accept his defense as reason to spend the extra cash to correct the wood. It’s correct for today, she says. Right for right now. You can fix it tomorrow. But is it ever ethical to print something knowing it’s false? Henry doesn’t think so.

Deadlines in a Digital Age
In an Internet era, deadlines are a revolving door. As soon as something is written, it is posted, read and commented on. If it’s wrong, it will be corrected in the commentary. If it’s exclusive, that won’t last long.

In this digital age, Alicia’s argument doesn’t stand a chance. As soon as something is published, it is out of date. There is no fixing it tomorrow. There is only now. The deadline is waiting.

Beating the Clock
The pressures to produce news around the clock mean many stories make it to the presses before reporters have had time to flush them out. As stories change and develop, new deadlines are met and corrections are made.

The new timeframe only increases the importance of sharing the process with our readers and viewers. On a constantly refreshing deadline, mistakes are bound to be made. The only preventative measure is transparency.

Our influence in the court of public opinion is heavy handed. Our mistakes can change the lives of our characters forever. If we share what we know when we know it, as well as what we don’t know, we prevent ourselves from drawing bold conclusions before they’re due.

No comments:

Post a Comment