The Age of Urgency and Procrastination

Adam Tinworth: The next mindshift change journalists need to go through is that they no longer have a finished product. The issue is never complete. The feature is never done. The news is always evolving. And this is hard for us old-school hacks. If you were to ask a group of people what words they associate with journalism, I’d lay odds that “deadline” would be in there somewhere. But we’re moving into a post-deadline age, when the publishing time is now, and then as soon as you have new information. Or a new conversation. Or a new contribution.

Thing is, deadlines help. They are the procrastinator’s brutal friend. But they are no longer finish lines. They are stages in building projects that may never be finished. Not if the subject stays interesting.

4 comments

  1. Brian Robinson’s avatar

    I don’t agree with Adam about this view of journalism. This hack was taught that the story doesn’t end when you file, that most are worth a follow-up, if not two or three. That definitely applies to the larger stories. It was lack of time and space in the paper or magazine that often prevented those follow-ups from appearing, at least in any length.

    The current forms (print + online) don’t require any change to old-school thinking, but they do require a change in attitude. Now, we have the forums that can take those follow-ons, both for length and timeliness.

  2. PJ’s avatar

    Maybe they should shift to terms used by software developers who also have products that are ‘never done’: milestones and ship dates. They already have a leg up on software developers since they do ‘code review’ via their copy editors :) I can’t think of an analogue to unit tests for an article though…

  3. Bob Boynton’s avatar

    Perhaps we could have news reports in beta — to be finished on the same timescale that Google takes its products out of beta.

  4. Orlando’s avatar

    Without Deadlines I would have never gotten where I am today. I have a terrible affliction, I have been stricken down with chronic procrastination syndrome.

    On a serious note, for a majority of people today in the online arena forums are invisible. It’s true that they have gained popularity in recent years, but the majority of people do not participate or even “lurk”. It’s up to the journalist to continue the stories and keep the public updated on new developments.

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