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From The Editor's Desk: Covering breaking news is still a round-the-clock job, despite print schedule

In The Post’s newsroom, the term “deadline” may have once evoked one of two likely scenarios: an editor standing over reporter’s shoulder demanding his or her story be turned in, or the newspaper’s pages literally being rushed to the presses.

On either occasion — and in any decade — we likely pushed that deadline as far as we could. Certainly, procrastination has always been an unfavorable trait of both college students and journalists.

But our reporters just cannot have that luxury of knowing procrastination, or even a true “deadline,” any longer.

That much is true in newsrooms across the world. Whether we are mid-exam, halfway up Jeff Hill or dead asleep, we are expected to report news the moment it breaks. That was part of the reason we wanted to redesign our website — as an incentive for our loyal readers who catch us on their mobile phones as soon as a story appears, and who are just as busy as we are.

Or, if those readers are like myself, we just wanted to deliver website they would be able to best enjoy while lying in bed, half-asleep, when they should have been studying. I hope The Post has been acceptable on both fronts.

Still, I mention the unfavorable “deadline” because our reporters have been realizing how that is now defined by the moment a reader checks their phone, rather than when the writer finishes his or her story. Blink and we will miss you — and we really hate to miss you.

That is why our sports reporters have been working ever-so-hard to publish game recaps (“gamers,” as we call them) the moment the Bobcats are off the field, or why our news reporters found it necessary to post stories online as soon as the news broke that Roger Ailes’ name would be removed from WOUB’s newsroom, or that the message “Justice 4 Tyre King” had been spray-painted on several buildings across campus. That is also why we worked to update those stories with fresh information hours after the initial report was published.

We are trying to recognize that our true “deadline” is whenever the reader is hoping for an answer to a pressing question, and our reporters hope we can be counted on each time news breaks on campus.

Our newsroom still has room for improvement, of course. We could always be quicker, more thorough and more wide in our reporting. We could always devote more time to our website, and find new ways to report on breaking news in-depth with our print edition, even if that is days after a story has been published online. Reader feedback has told us as much, and our reporters are hoping to deliver on breaking news in improved and more inventive ways than we have in the past. We appreciate our readers sticking with us through that.

Emma Ockerman is a senior studying journalism and editor-in-chief of The Post. Want to talk to her? Tweet her @eockerman or email her at

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