Deadlines and considerations

It’s not my job to answer this question, but I will, because this seems to be the place to do it. Lots of email today from angry University of Louisville fans that the team’s presence on the front page of the Sports section was smaller than the UK presence for losing to a bad Florida team.

Understandable.

Also, unfortunately, unavoidable.

Because of Daylight Savings Time, the copy deadlines were one hour earlier than usual. And the U of L-West Virginia game, which didn’t begin until 9 p.m., ended well after many of our edition deadlines had passed.

Rick Bozich and C.L. Brown had to write their stories under the gun, and ship them at the buzzer. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do, especially when the game is of that magnitude, and as close as it was.

To change the layout of a page, including color photography, means more than just changing the layout on the computer screen. It means stopping the presses, replating, and retstarting. And that takes time. And when you’re talking about papers coming off of presses, time means copies.

So the choice is this. Stop, redo the section and have the finished product get into fewer newspapers. Or get the story in as quickly as you can, as best you can, and get it to as many people as you can.

That’s the decision editors are facing. Several asked about “holding” the presses, but that’s an expensive process that begins to get into overtime pay for a variety of people, press operators, truck drivers, etc. For an NCAA championship game or other national sports event, you might see that. Certainly for a presidential election or a war breaking out. But it’s not going to happen for a conference championship, no matter how big it is.

Several asked about why my UK column was on the Sports front instead of Rick Bozich’s U of L column, which we all agree, would’ve been better to have on the front. But the issue is the same. You’re having to remake a color image on the front (our faces), and then you’ve got the issue of my UK column then having to run on a page otherwise devoted to U of L basketball (not the worst thing in the world, but still impractical because of the color issue).

As a writer, deadlines are a fact of life. I promise you, we curse them more than readers do. Nothing is more frustrating than to spend a whole season with a team, only to have to bang out a story on them achieving a season-long goal in less than a few minutes. But it has always been this way with newspapers.

Ten years ago, college basketball games did not begin at 9 p.m.

Again, as I wrote in a piece that appeared our Op-Ed pages earlier this year, newspapers do have value with historical preservation. A number of people were looking for hard copies today to commemorate a great U of L basketball achievement. We’d have liked nothing better than to have given it the front-page ride it deserved. But when games end around midnight, it can’t be done.

An unfortunate fact of life at the moment. I’m not necessarily defending the entire situation, just reporting. It’s not an explanation that will satisfy anyone, I’m sure, but it is, I think, worth making anyway.

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13 thoughts on “Deadlines and considerations

  1. And that, Mr. Crawford, is why print editions of newspapers are going the way of the dodo bird. Your “product” doen’t respond to reader’s concerns…you simply say “sorry but you’ve just got to live with our inability to put the Louisville story on the front page.” I’m certain that it is just a matter of time before the CJ follows in the footsteps of the Seattle paper and closes its doors. I have never seen a company with such disdain for its customers.

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