Last week I had the assignment of covering two debates prior to Primary Day, which is Thursday, September 13.
However, debates are not very easy to cover. Here’s why:
1. If the candidates do their job, there is a LOT of information
2. As a reporter, I have to pick and choose which issues to address
3. There isn’t much time to do so
4. It still has to be a cohesive story a viewer will want to watch
Unfortunately, the first night I didn’t make my 11 p.m. deadline. I was crushed. It still ran as the top story in our hyperlocal news block because of other political coverage that ran late, but that doesn’t excuse my failing.
So what happened? After racking my brain, I believe it truly came down to wanting to put together the best piece for the audience (Here it is). If you weren’t at the debate, well, by hook or by crook, NOW you’ve got what you need to know on the screen in front of you. In making this my goal, I got caught up in wording and sequencing and most importantly, fairness… and the production just went too long. I didn’t finish on time.
Angry at myself, I went on to the next night’s debate, determined to have my package in before 11.
Though proud I had met my goal, I realized there was a sacrifice made. As I was writing, editing, regurgitating, I kept telling myself, “It’s not going to be perfect, but just get it done.”
Therein lies something deeper.
As a journalist, meeting your deadline can often become the highest priority. The news needs to be released IMMEDIATELY.
But in the process, are we losing quality?
I know that I did. Before I went to bed that night, I admitted to myself there was a better way I could’ve wrapped up that debate recap. The ending I used? Not horrible. Was it fluid? Could’ve been smoother.
It makes you wonder just how much good storytelling we lose because of the need to be first/prompt/within a certain time frame. Because we definitely do.
In the end, it comes down to whether you value the immediacy or the quality of the information. News… is news.