I wish we had elves, but instead we have deadlines

By Erin McIntyre

I’ve always been a fairly deadline-oriented person.
Blame it on the fact I’m the eldest of three, one of those big sisters who tried to be responsible but sometimes came off as “bossy.”
Or maybe blame it on my 10-year-old self, who learned the hard way that projects must always come to an end. At some point, you have to call it and know you did your best.
I learned a lot about deadlines while preparing for the County Fair and frantically lacing the edges of leather coasters I made in Leathercraft at the eleventh hour. All 4-H kids will tell you they quickly learn the values of deadlines, as well as many other valuable life skills when they’re finishing their last-minute touches for the fair. Whether it’s drawing bubble-letters on poster boards, blow-drying a steer’s glossy coat or hurriedly stamping a leather belt, we’ve all been there.
Thirty years later, here I am, looking at deadlines again as a co-publisher of this weekly newspaper. And I have the same feelings as I did when I was just a kid, trying to untangle that leather lacing.
You might think because we only publish once a week that deadlines don’t matter as much.
On the contrary, they’re quite important for us to do a good job. And because we believe the Plaindealer belongs to the community, I’m going to let you in on something.
We haven’t made our deadline since we bought this newspaper. Not once.
Luckily, we have an incredibly patient press manager who knows we’re learning as fast as possible. He’s been in the business long enough to know that new owners equals some adjustments. We haven’t angered him too much, yet.
But this isn’t how we want to operate. It’s not fair to the other customers at the printing press or those who work there. It’s not fair to our delivery guy, Phil. And ultimately, it’s not fair to readers.
If we’re scrambling to meet our deadlines, we’re probably not giving you the best product. It’s better if we can pace ourselves and be more thorough.
Believe it or not, we don’t have elves who come in the middle of the night and assemble the newspaper. Nope, it’s all us, and we’re a very small staff. So we need to plan ahead and use our time wisely. Chances are, you might see us out taking photos of a community event, conducting interviews, attending public meetings, and one of us is also the voice on the end of the phone when you call to place a yard sale ad or need someone to handle a loved one’s obituary. We’re juggling a lot.
Sure, there will always be last-minute things that arise. That’s the nature of the business. But our way of working should take that into account and try to mitigate the unknowns as much as possible each week.
Journalism is a business involving limited space and time. We’re always pushing up against deadlines, trying to do the best we can within those constraints. This isn’t just applicable to gathering news and writing articles. It also applies to putting together the newspaper each week - the production side of the operation.
And that’s why we need your help.
We’re instituting new deadlines and we need not only your understanding, but your cooperation.
We love getting news tips, press releases, advertising, obituaries, legal notices and classified ads. They’re part of what makes this a community newspaper.
But to do our best, we need to get them in time for publication.
To that end, here are our deadlines.

Display advertising must be finalized by 5 p.m. Monday for the current week’s publication.
Classifieds must be placed by 10 a.m. Tuesday for the current week’s publication.
Legal advertisements must be finalized by 5 p.m. Tuesday for the current week’s publication.
News tips, letters to the editor and press releases should be submitted by 5 p.m. Monday for consideration in the current week’s publication.
Obituaries must be finalized by 5 p.m. Monday for the current week’s publication.

We will try our very best to be as flexible as possible, but we have to start somewhere. Thank you for your help and support as we try to make this newspaper even better for our readers and the community.
And if anyone has some spare elves to lend out, we’d be eternally grateful.