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Phone calls on deadline

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Smallpotatoes, Apr 28, 2008.

  1. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    Last Wednesday, about five minutes before I was supposed to send my pages to the paginators (We don't do Quark ourselves, a long, sad story), I received a phone call, which, it turned out, was transferred to me from a news editor who apparently didn't know I was on deadline.
    The caller was slurring his words and I couldn't understand what he was saying. In fact, I could only make out one word.
    I could tell that whatever the caller needed to talk to me about was going to take some time, some time that I didn't have. As politely as possible, I told him I was on deadline, I could not discuss whatever it was he wanted to discuss at the moment and asked him to call back in an hour when I had time to talk. After several moments of dead air, I hung up.
    I usually answer the phone when I'm at my desk rather than letting it go to voicemail because without caller ID, I don't know who it is. If it's a co-worker who needs something, it's best that I answer and if it's a reader who has a quick question that can be answered quickly (giving out an e-mail address or letting them know the deadline to send youth copy, for example), I don't see what the big deal is to answer the question so I have no problem helping them in such a situation.
    If it's obvious that the call is going to take a while (such as a complaint call), I try to get the caller to call back at some other time and they usually don't (in this case, the guy didn't).
    One co-worker who heard me said I was rude. I suppose he felt that I should have stayed on the phone and tried to help the guy and if it meant blowing deadline, so be it. Or perhaps I should never answer the phone when I'm on deadline.
    What would you have done?
  2. In Cold Blood

    In Cold Blood Member

    As long as you're not a complete asshole with your delivery, I don't think it's impolite to tell callers you are on a tight deadline and ask them to call back. Or take their number and call them back at a less rushed moment (although if this guy was slurring his words, that may not have been an option).
  3. John

    John Well-Known Member

    I'd have done exactly what you did.
  4. Either don't answer the phone or explain that you have a deadline and politely ask them to call back later or get a number where you can call them.
    You NEVER miss deadline because some idiot called in at the last minute.
  5. JakeandElwood

    JakeandElwood Well-Known Member

    Sounds like you did the smart thing.
  6. Next time just say, "I'm sorry we're on deadline, please call back between XX and XX."
  7. Chi City 81

    Chi City 81 Guest

    No offense, but your co-worker is a fucking idiot.
  8. hockeybeat

    hockeybeat Guest

    Absolutely perfect.
  9. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    That's nothing, a few years ago when I was on deadline a receptionist let a person in and sent her to my desk because she wanted to ask me if I received some regional AAU basketball tryout notice and if it would go into several different papers that week.
    Truth be told, I guess it was my fault. The woman left a message on my voicemail that morning and I had not gotten around to returning the call.
    But then again, I think some people have some nerve to be as pushy as they are about making sure their freebies get squeezed into the paper.
  10. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    You've got a deadline to make. You did the right thing.

    I've told my office's receptionist not to transfer calls back to me unless they were staff or unless I'd called a source.
  11. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    exactly what he said.
  12. schiezainc

    schiezainc Well-Known Member

    My favorite one came about a month ago.

    We're sitting in the production office (about six of us or so from various departments) and a guy calls in at around 11:30 am. Our paper has to be out by around 1p.m. or so and the news editor is behind schedule.

    One of the news staff members stops proofing and answers the one, politely talking to the guy. Well, aparently the gentlemen wasn't pleased about something that was in our paper that Wednesday and wanted to get an opinion piece into the upcoming issue for Friday, which you guess it, we were already wrapping up.

    News guy stays very polite the whole time, but you can tell he's getting pretty pissed. The part of the exchange I can hear goes like this....

    STAFF MEMBER: "Well, sir, I understand that you feel you should have a chance to respond. That's fine. But as we're on deadline right now, it's going to have to wait until next week."

    (ten seconds pass)

    "No, sir, I get that you're just reading this today. I know, that's how newspapers work."

    (ten more seconds pass)

    "Well, I don't know what to tell you except that you can write it and we'll put in next week's paper"

    (five seconds pass)

    "No, next week's paper. As in not today."

    (ten more seconds pass)

    "Because we're on deadline."

    (five seconds pass)

    "I'm sorry, but I don't have time for this. Goodbye".

    He then hangs up on him, and exclaims "fucking douche" to the production room. Laughter follows.
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