Getting People to Stop Talking (While on Deadline)

After deadline last week, Louisa, Michelle and I talked about how each of us gets someone off the phone.

Louisa said she had a 15-minute long conversation that she didn’t want to have, but wasn’t sure how to nicely tell the person that sh needed to get back to work on deadline.

I told her there really isn’t one way to do go about it. Some people just forget that we are a morning deadline paper. Some people just can’t stop talking.

None of us came up with anything decent for the next time it happens. Believe me when I tell you that it happens everyday with, at least, one of us. It’s no one’s fault, though. Some stories bring out real emotions and people want to make sure their voice is heard.

My first reaction was to  say “lie” to the source, but we all know what happens when that decision is made. You can’t get that back.

That can be a post in and of itself, but I digress.

It’s not that we don’t want to hear what people have to say. It’s that deadline is just that — a deadline. We have to stick to it. It’s easy to forget, the three of us know that. We forget all the time.

No matter what, you’ll have to interrupt the person. That’s never a fun thing to do, no matter how close you are to the source. Stopping people mid-sentence is awkward.

For me, I usually say that I’ll call them back as soon as I get off deadline and that I’m sorry. They quickly understand, but sometimes people do get a little offended. I can’t really blame them. Some conversations aren’t the same the second time around. Any reporter could tell you that.

I never like doing that. It’s just a part of work.

You just have to hope that sources understand. I’m sure every experienced reporter has their own way of saying it. It may be different for specific sources, or it may not.

Deadline comes first because, for me, you never want to be the one holding up the paper.

Jonathan