Thursday, April 4, 2019

A to Z Challenge - D for Deadline

Theme - journalism jargons
That's what drives journalists -- the cut-off time before which a task has to be completed.

There is a time before which they have to turn in copies.

There is a time before which all the contents of the newspaper have to be in place so that pages can be transmitted to the press for printing.

There is a time before which the shooting of a television programme has to be wrapped up so that it can be aired at the scheduled time.


Today in the age of social media, it's news 24x7. Every minute is a deadline, and journalists are under tremendous pressure to get as many facts as possible, as quickly as possible. They can't sit on copies and wait for all the details to come in before they file the stories.

The deadline for most newspapers is between midnight and 2 am.


When big events happen close to the deadline it's tough. Some prominent examples:

* Assassination of former Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991, in an explosion while he was addressing an election rally in Tamil Nadu state. Initial reports came around 10.30 pm.

* Terror attacks in the US on Sept 11, 2001. It was around 6.45 pm in India when initial reports of a major plane accident came.

* Terror attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008. The initial reports, which came around 10.45 pm, spoke of random shootings on the streets of Mumbai.

* Announcement of the death of the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa, on December 5, 2016, just before midnight.

In such circumstances, journalists, under tremendous pressure, turn in whatever confirmed information they can get within the deadline. Editors push the deadline, at the most by about an hour, and pages are sent to the press with as much information as can be obtained by that time.

In the case of Rajiv Gandhi's death, the last bit of news that could be pushed into the front page of the newspaper I worked for at that time, was a single-sentence paragraph, on the announcement by the Election Commission, around 2.45 am, postponing the subsequent phases of the election. (He died a day after the first phase of polling.)

Such breaches of the deadline are rare and allowed only in exceptional circumstances.


Newspaper production is a chain of processes, beginning with the gathering of information for news stories to the final step of completion of all the pages. If a deadline is breached at any stage, it has a ripple effect, affecting subsequent processes.

If the last stage, of sending the completed pages to the press, is delayed beyond the permissible limit, the printing process will be delayed, and the newspaper would not reach subscribers and markets on time early in the morning.


For most people deadline works in a positive way. They are driven to doing something. Under pressure, all their faculties are pumped up, and as a result, they are able to perform very well and turn in good copies. So, many journalists have the habit of starting to work on their copies only when the deadline is looming, even if they could finish them much earlier in the day!

(This post is a part of the "Blogging from A to Z Challenge April 2019".)


  1. Who was it that said they liked deadlines, the sounds they make as they whoosh by?

    1. Hi Liz - It's no easy matter sticking to deadlines. And when they have flown past, catching up with everything that is pending is worse!

  2. I know many who thrive under deadlines in many lines of work. But I am grateful not to have any. ~grin~ Procrastination just stresses me out, in fact. Be well!

  3. Hi Darla - Procrastination is not a luxury everyone has. And in some professions like medicine, not sticking to deadlines can have deadly consequences!

    1. So true! I couldn't handle that sort of pressure, for sure. Happy Blogging!

  4. When the deadline nears, the adrenaline rushes. Some kind of satisfying feeling at the successful conclusion.

  5. OMG! My favourite thing about deadlines is when they are firmly over! and all work is too, and everyone can breathe again. Thank goodness I don't have to face them anymore - except occasionally.

    1. Hi Nilanjana - Yes, deadlines can be very agonizing.

  6. This was interesting to read. I really respect good journalism that strives to get the news to us in a timely way. I find deadlines stressful. On the flip side, if I don't have a deadline I'm a terrible procrastinator. I'll be sharing on FB and Twitter for #MLSTL

  7. Hi Pradeep, I actually work well to deadlines because I have an end point. It is easy to procrastinate without a timeframe. Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL and good luck with the AtoZ Challenge.

  8. Isn't it interesting that deadlines are only actually deadlines if nothing important arises that pushes them aside? That was an interesting read Pradeep and I'm impressed that you're tackling the AtoZ for another year - good on you and thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I've shared on my SM :)

  9. This is so true and I must admit I love a deadline!! Very interesting a great topic for your A-Z #mlslt

  10. Hi Pradeep - deadlines are a necessity ... especially for print, or tv ... some bending can happen occasionally - probably more easily now-a-days as information gets through quickly and events can be updated more regularly.

    I remember a bomb attack that killed someone in Nottinghill, London in the 70s ... and I walked up the hill to get the bus - there were no buses ... anyway I got to work in the West End eventually and by the time I'd got there, the Evening Standard paper had a front and back cover with photos telling us what had happened - it was in those days less than an hour later ... amazes me to this day.

    Cheers Hilary