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Nightmare Nights

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Bullwinkle, Dec 6, 2007.

  1. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Member

    Pilot's post in another thread (quoted below) made me feel really good in a weird kind of way. I recently had the same thing happen to me--almost word-for-word--and it took me nearly two weeks to finally get over it. I felt worthless, bad, everything. It just hung with me.

    But reading Pilot's post made me realize that I'm not alone. We've all been there, at some point. Now I'm hoping you all will be willing to share similar stories, while I shamelessly save some of mine for a later post.

    What were some of your deadline disasters? How did you feel, and how did you get over it?

  2. Walter Burns

    Walter Burns Member

    This is my all-time sports war story (news is a little scarier)...

    Here are the particulars: team in the state softball semifinals, game at 4 p.m. Deadline at 11:30 p.m. Gamer will be the centerpiece of a four-page wrap. Should be a breeze.
    I get into the office at 3:30 and find the reporter and photographer still there. Since the game's an hour and a half away, I'm a little surprised.
    "They cancel the game?"
    "Nope, postponed it."
    It had been raining all morning (the four semifinal games scheduled for the day before went off without a hitch). The bulletins were coming off the AP wire every half hour or so. Games scheduled to start at 4 p.m. ... Games scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. ... Games scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.
    The game we were covering was the last of four state semifinals. They decide that they're going to play all four games that day. The first game starts at 7 p.m.
    The game we cover ends up starting at 1 a.m. We had to scramble to find a weather story to fill the centerpiece, we couldn't get the game in even after pushing deadline back an hour, I pounded out a pissed-off editorial, and went home for three hours' sleep before going to the state track meet.
  3. BigSleeper

    BigSleeper Active Member

    I used to get a kick out of the war stories from my time on the desk. But when enough of them happen, you begin to realize, it's just all part of the job. Face it, overcome it, go home. Another paper tomorrow.
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I was a college beat writer, covering a big local basketball rivalry on deadline. I was writing on a TRS-80 and getting ready to send via modem and then the whole file just disappeared about five mintues before deadline.

    That was fun!

    Also been kicked out of plenty of press boxes before being able to finish and send my story (before wireless) and had to beg at DQ and McDonald's and such to use a phone to send.

    On the first two examples, not sure how old they are, but who rushes home anymore to file a story on their computer. Wouldn't having a laptop with at least a wireless card allow you to type in some running and file from lots of places?
  5. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    One of the best stories I can recall was when I was pitching in on an election on the news side recently. We traveled a couple hours to be with the candidate who we presumed would be the winner. His headquarters was full of TV people, some national, and a lot of reporters throughout.

    Anyway, at about 10:30, one network declared the guy elected. He said he wanted to wait for his speech, but TV folk pushed him to get on stage. Guy goes, declares victory, etc. His speech goes on air, TV gangs leave, he cracks a beer and does some scrumming.

    Meanwhile, a couple of us in the back of the office are watching the TV when the other guy takes a lead. His manager goes to him at about 11:30 and says he's behind and he should probably stop the scrums. Things go back and forth for another hour or two until he finally wins.

    We were still there at the time and though it was a rollercoaster, we had good stuff. I bet some of the people who left were breathing a big sigh of relief he won however.
  6. fossywriter8

    fossywriter8 Well-Known Member

    Walter Burns, you wouldn't have experienced that in Ohio, home of the "We're the Ohio High School Athletic Association, so you better bow down to us" would you?:)

    I have a story.
    I was covering the state track meet in Ohio in 2001 when it was still held at Dayton's Welcome Stadium. Everything went well at the meet, I went back to my hotel room and wrote three stories and then tried to send them and the pictures (the photographer asked me to E-mail them).
    That's when things went awry.
    The glorious E-mail and computer system we had at the time downright sucked.
    To E-mail, I had to call the office to tell everyone to get offline, then log on and basically E-mail myself the story. It was more like IntraMail, and it was a disaster.
    Somehow the local Internet provider had a snafu of FUBAR proportions and my three stories, which were all sent in separate E-mail messages, got the office in one great big jumbled mess.
    Trying to resend the stories didn't help, so I had to read each one over the phone to a typist. I didn't get to bed until 3 a.m., six hours before I had to be back across town to cover the first event.
    Did I mention my pregnant wife (luckily, only a few months along) was with me? Boy was she pissed at the world.
    Oh, and those photos I E-mailed? They never made it. Somewhere out there are photos from the 2001 state track meet, floating around in the ether, waiting for a future techno-archeologist to bring them back.
    Even after we ran a small piece explaining what happened we still had some readers say we didn't run photos of their athletes because we didn't like their school.
  7. beardpuller

    beardpuller Active Member

    In 1989, I was the No. 2 guy covering a major league baseball team. They send fairly prominent pitcher with control problems down to the minors. I'm asked to go cover his first start. Team PR guy says it's Wednesday in Syracuse. This is Tuesday, very early in the season. So I fly into Syracuse, check into the local Marriott Wednesday afternoon, click on the TV by habit, and hear a voice announcing "and that's it from (whatever) stadium, where the final score is 4-3."
    They had played a bleeping minor league day game. In the middle of the week. On a nonholiday, in late April or early May, I forget which.
    This was before most of us had cell phones. Luckily, the team's bus ride back to its home city wasn't all that long. After a long evening of explaining the unexplainable to my boss, I got in touch with the pitcher in his hotel room in the home city, and interviewed him, with his newborn baby wailing in the background.
    It was a decent story. It needed to be, to save my sorry ass.
  8. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    The worst nights I've had in this business involved power outages. I remember a big wind storm in Idaho knocked out the power and we sat and sat and sat. Power went out at 3 p.m. came back on at 9 p.m., took awhile to get the wires and the server going again and we started the paper at about 9:45 p.m. with a 11:30 deadline. I think we got the paper out at about 1 a.m. that night and boy was it ugly.
  9. TyWebb

    TyWebb Well-Known Member

    Only one comes to mind, and it isn't all that bad:

    -As the one-man show of a small weekly in my first job, I was covering two softball teams, different classifications, playing for the state title. The problem: they were playing at the exact same time. Luckily, it was in the same venue. The games took place on a Tuesday night, which is when our stuff had to be in to be sent to press on Wednesday. I spent the whole night sprinting back and forth between games everytime one crowd would cheer. To make things more interesting, both teams won. I had to haul ass to both games and interview as many people as I could, haul ass home (an hour drive) and write both stories to get done in time for the early morning deadline. Got home around 1 p.m., done with stories by 4 p.m.
  10. Walter Burns

    Walter Burns Member

    What, I told you this story already?
  11. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    There have been nights here I've wanted to skullfuck the shit out of Alfa. I'm not a hateful person by nature, but there are nights this system drives me insane with hateful rage.
  12. a_rosenthal

    a_rosenthal Guest

    My favorite was when we sent a freelancer out to bumfuckville to cover a state title basketball game. He had covered them several times before.
    After the game, which started late of course, he went to come back to the office to file.
    Only one problem: He made a wrong turn and ended up in Wyoming (not Colorado).
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