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My editors didn’t have to tell me twice to pick up the pace with my writing speed.

When I first started, I wasn’t slow. I just took my time. I realized that I had to pick up the pace because my coworkers were finishing both of their stories each morning before me.

It’s obviously not a competition here, but I had to get faster.

At CCSU, I had a days, or even a week, to write three or four stories. I really took that for granted. That’s nothing to what I’m doing now. Today, I’ll write two stories on deadline and then write one or two more for the next day. It’s just the way it is.

I’d compare the transition to being a college quarterback starting for an NFL team. They always say the “speed of the game” is so much faster. That’s what I went through. The constant repetition helps get you accustomed to it. It’s a completely different atmosphere.

With the morning deadline a key factor is speed, especially when people are counting on you.

How fast can you talk to a few sources and then make a story out of it? It sounds simple, but it can be a pain in the ass. People may not call you back right away or the story may “flop,” for any number of reasons. No matter what happens, you have to be quick.

And with speed comes accuracy. You have to get the facts and context of a story right while trying to get the story done quickly. Obviously, speed and accuracy aren’t the lone ingredients for reporting. Both are crucial to skills each journalist must have.

At the Chronicle, we don’t tweet every story we write. Our Twitter feed has only recently been used for some breaking news stories. So speed is only dedicated to getting each of our stories done, which is kind of nice. I find it stressful enough to get my stories done and submitted. I don’t know how other papers keep up with the simultaneous tweeting/editing/writing that journalism is seeing today. It’s impressive.

Nothing is worse then an impatient editor. If you pitch two stories, they have to be done. There are very few excuses that work for not coming through with what you promised. I have no idea what those excuses are and I have no intention of finding out.

No matter who you are writing for, editors have a certain expectations from their reporters.

If you say you can do something, you have to come through. You don’t want to be the reporter to hold up the entire paper from being printed. It’s happened to all of us. It’s an empty feeling, but it will happen.

I found it wise to “test myself” while working on deadline. To get my speed up, I would set “alarms” for when I wanted them to be done. Yes, it was added pressure, but it worked. I was able to get comfortable writing/editing with limited amounts of time. I’ve already seen it pay off multiple times.

Take a couple weeks ago, when I wrote four stories on deadline.

(Osten upsets Reynolds in 19th primary ) (Fund set up to help South Street fire victims Female victim listed in critical condition in RI )(Coventry standoff ends in tragedy ) (Pope, Lewis win registrar primary races )

Mike asked me several times if I was okay with doing all of those, the day after the primary and I had to tell him several times that it was fine. I finished two right off the bat and had to make some extra calls for the fire and standoff stories. It worked out really well and, thanks to the drills I put myself through, I had four bylines for Wednesday’s paper.

Speed doesn’t come without one very important thing, editing.



2 Responses to Speed

  1. Pingback: Feeling the Stress « Just Starting Out

  2. Pingback: How Fast do You Write? « Just Starting Out

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