Always Have a Plan B

The game plan yesterday to pick up the affidavits, rush back to the Chronicle newsroom and have me write the stories as fast as I could.

I’m not going to be bashful in this post, since it’s hugely important and one of the craziest days I’ve had at work.

Affidavit: Carilli impregnated teen victim

Affidavit: Fragoso admits to having relationship with teen\

I got to the courthouse way too early. I got there so early the free parking garage wasn’t even open yet. I had to park in the street and wait. I waited a long time. I won’t say exactly how long because, looking back, I was really anxious and should have known better. I just listened to music and chatted with the other people in line for the courthouse.

Just for some information: Deadline for outside stories is 10:30 a.m., if not earlier. I knew I was going to be cutting it close. I was already nervous before I even got to the courthouse.

After the courthouse finally opened, I was one of the first in line to ask for the affidavits from the court clerks office.

Cue bad luck.

Since it was just a couple minutes after 9 a.m., the affidavits weren’t copied and ready to be distributed. One of the clerks told me to wait and that she would tell me when they were ready. I waited 15 minutes before I called my boss and told him the bad news. He said to wait it out and keep checking in with him. By this time I was quietly freaking out, trying to be as patient as possible.

Forty minutes after I had first asked for them, I paid my $11 for the 11 pages and I called my boss. He told me to just go home (I live in the same town as the courthouse) and write the first story from home. I can’t believe we didn’t think of it before. It was brilliant.

I drove home as fast as I could, within the law’s limits, while trying to read the affidavits as best I could. I got home after 10 a.m. (remember the presses turn on at 11 a.m.) and wrote as fast as I can.

I had done a little prewriting the day before, but since I couldn’t predict the affidavit, I had only pre-written so much.

I sent in my story around 10:20 a.m., called my editor and told him it was ready. I waited about 20 minutes and called the other editors, since I never got the call back that the story was okay. It ended up being okay and I could finally come into work.

I’m glad Mike thought of me gong home to write at home. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been first with the affidavit stories.

When I got to work I finished writing the other affidavit story and made sure all three of the editors on the day shift read it. I took my time with the second affidavit because I had more room. The editors let me put a bit more than I did in the first story.

I think both stories came out pretty good. It’s a great feeling to get both in for Friday and the weekend edition papers. It was nice to see the plan work out, even if it was our plan B.

Jonathan

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