Analysis: Deadline Reporting

By Daniel Temple

September 28, 2009- Deadline reporting can known as both a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand, it can often inspire reporters. Fueled by adrenaline, they can produce articles that really capture the heat and emotion of a situation.

However deadlines can also inhibit a reporter. Writing by the ticking clock, they are sometimes unable to put the necessary time and research into a story, to really make it great.

These 5 pieces are examples of deadline writing that are done in an effective yet timely manner. Each article is able to tell a unique and distinctive story, aided by the use of well-researched material and diligent reporting.

Single shot in face kills popular English teacher

By Stephanie Desmon and Antigone Barton

Winner, Sigma Delta Chi Award, Deadline Reporting, 2000

This article tells about a tragic school shooting that occurred in Palm Beach, Florida.

What makes this article so effective is the attention to detail and vivid storytelling employed by the writers. Often during a serious and tragic event such as a school shooting, information can be difficult to obtain.

However it appears that the research done for this piece was in fact, quite extensive. The article first takes care of the important information by telling the story, which is what most people are interested in.

But rather than simply ending the article after retelling the events, the reporters go one step further by supplying in-depth profiles of the main individuals involved. Not only is the reader equipped with the knowledge of the events, but they also come away with a better idea of the people in the story.

Certainly this kind of extensive work is commendable, especially when considering that all information acquired, organized and depicted was done within a span of only a couple hours.

Slashed girl describes how intruder ‘kept hitting people’

By Kathy Stevens

Winner, Sigma Delta Chi Award, Deadline Reporting, 2002

Stevens tells about a young girl that was slashed with a machete in an Elementary School.

It is usually during high stress stories that emotions are at their highest levels, and so it is important for reporters to maintain a certain amount of sensitivity.

The reporter must reveal the story, but do so in a way that is respectful and conscious of the general public’s attitude. In this article, Stevens approaches the story of a horrifying attack on an elementary school delicately, employing a variety of angles in order to maintain respectability.

Rather than tarnish the nature of the story, Stevens depicts the story through a scared but courageous 6 year old. Instead of resorting to tabloid journalism, Stevens presents the article in a serious and understanding tone.

Of course it is important to remember that the acquisition of information should not come at the psychological cost of others. What makes this piece so well done is that it was tastefully informative, yet it seems as if those involved in the attack were given the proper amount of space by the reporters.

Stevens managed to respect those hurt by the incident, and still obtain the information necessary to make the article informative.

C.J vs. A.P closer than expected

By Paul Kuharsky, ESPN, Sept 28, 2008

Kuharsky breaks down the day’s game in the form of a comparison between two young opposing running backs.

What makes this article interesting is the amount that the reporter got accomplished in a different kind of post-game report.

Kuharsky starts off by grabbing the reader’s attention with a debatable subject. As he begins to compare the two backs, he weaves in statistics and notes from the game that just occurred.

He then begins to describe the skills and attributes of the lesser known back thus informing the reader of a new and emerging star. In a matter of paragraphs, Kuharsky has used a multitude of approaches in his article.

He has established a forum for debate, he provided a brief account of the most recent game, and he managed to include a small profile piece on an up-and-coming player.

With deadlines, reporters often have just enough time to present a one-dimensional story that simply covers the facts. But this article elevates to the next level and provides a variety of material on a number of different levels.

Obama, McCain gingerly embrace bailout plan

Associated Press, Sept 28, 2008

This article discusses both presidential candidates and their endorsement of the $700 billion bail out.

One of the difficulties of deadline reporting can be sorting through the information and figuring out what is and is not relevant.

Because of the time constraints, there is only so much information that can be presented. It is imperative that the reporter knows which material to use amidst a wealth of information.

Presidential candidates, because of their position, are highly approachable subjects for the media. That is why there appears to be an endless supply of news and information about each candidate.

This article does a good job of presenting the main story (the $700 billion bail out) but still manages to keep it within the context of the two candidates. The reporter was able to find and use several past events and quotes, but only the past events and quotes that reinforced the current topic and increased the quality of the article.

Remembering Paul Newman, Humanitarian and Actor

By Richard Corliss

CNN, Sept 27, 2008

Corliss takes a look at the life and legacy of Paul Newman along with his many triumphs and accomplishments.

Often when important figures in society pass on, reporters will be given deadline assignments to give perspective on those individual’s lives.

These special assignments are difficult, because they must tastefully depict the individual, while providing enough information for the reader to become familiar with that person.

This article is interesting because it establishes Paul Newman as a cornerstone in then American Film Industry along with past legends. It continues this idea of association throughout the piece, thus placing the individual in an elite category in the mind of the reader.

The piece also gives plenty of information on Newman as an actor, which is what most people remember him for. However the article also touches on his life as a humanitarian, thus giving insight into the generous and inner nature of Newman as a person.

The tone throughout the piece is extremely respectful, which is certainly important in these kind of stories. It gave brief but valuable insight into a very private individual. Corliss managed to make Newman more identifiable, yet still in control of his status as a legendary star actor.

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