Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Attack of the Editorial Meetings

Ever since I started at Where, we've been having semi-regular editorial meetings. This journalistic custom is not new to me, during the school year we have one once a week in class. These meetings have always been amusing, because a school editorial meeting comprises of a few main components.

First, our editor talks about upcoming deadlines, which are never really clear, and reminds us we actually need to get work done. Then, we go around the room and say what we're working on. I always felt this was more like a homework check then an actual editorial meeting, a sort of see-who's-not-a-slacker-this-week meeting. Either that or who's really good at making up what they've done so they sound cool. And yes, that's happened. Then our prof gives us her final, do-stuff-or-you're-in-trouble scare tactics, and we go home. I mean, work on our stories.

In my second week at Where, my editor phoned me. Yes, she phones me even though her office is near enough for me to hear her sneeze. Apparently it's easier then getting up and no one in this office likes to shout. Unless it's just talking over the cubicle wall.

Anyway, Laura phoned me, and said we were going to have an editorial meeting. Seeing as I had done nothing but read orientation material up to this point, I really enjoyed this meeting. All I did was get a sheet outlining everything I had to do on it. Plus all my assignments aren't due until the end of June. Sweet.

Two weeks later, Laura calls again. Another editorial meeting. I grab my notes and am ready to go. I've been working on my online ice cream feature and am pretty psyched to show how awesome I am. I get to the meeting and the first thing Laura says is;

"So, how's the article on 14th Street going?"

I gibber and try to form a complete sentence. I've hardly touched that one yet. Then Laura starts rolling out the deadlines. One article due by the end of the week. Two others, the following. The next day she calls and tells me she forgot to give me a deadline for the art piece, can I have it by Tuesday? Maybe earlier? It's Friday, and I've been setting up interviews for the following Wednesday. I am an idiot.

You see, this is how editorial meetings, and deadlines in general work at Where:

  • Meetings are not scheduled on a regular basis. They are whenever Laura calls. This means they spring up on you. You're going through your day, minding your own business, when the phone rings, and you have to prove you've made tangible progress on whatever you're asked about. And unlike school, you can't just fudge your way through.
  • You never know what they'll ask you about. While I may have worked long and hard on one story all week, I may get in there and Laura will decide she needs something completely different. So working consistently on everything is a must.
  • As if that weren't enough surprises, Laura often brings up things I have never heard of before. Like WhereMail, our online publication. She turned to me one meeting and said, "What are your ideas for GuessWhere?" Guess What? I had no idea I was thinking of ideas for that. Again, I am an idiot.
Yes, I know all my friends at newspapers are probably laughing at me, thinking; "Elena can't get deadlines that spring up on her? I meet deadlines everyday. Haha!" Well let me say this. I've had this blog idea percolating in my mind for weeks because I just wasn't sure when to put it. There's a reason I'm writing it now.

I was flipping through the magazine archives last week when I noticed a section called "Hot Dates." No, Where is not running personal ads. Hot Dates is a section at the front of the magazine where we highlight some key events that will be happening in the next two months. No one had mentioned them yet. This looked just like a deadline sneak attack. I started paying very close attention to the listings I was writing.

On Wednesday, the phone rang. We had an editorial meeting, and sure enough, Laura turned to me and said;

"Elena, what are your ideas for Hot Dates?"

I had a whole list ready. I am no longer an idiot. I am awesome.

A word to a wise though for all those future journalists: get used to watching your back. You never know where the editorial meetings will attack from.


Marie said...

Haha, that's great. I've had similar situations come up. My editor goes "What are your ideas on..." and then asks me something totally random, and the best I can really come up with is "Um....."

I'm sure it's a "practice makes perfect" situation. And even if we've felt dumb sometimes, just think of how much smarter we'll look compared to the second-years when we go back :)

Kylie Groft said...

You ARE awesome. :)