Posted by Ian
Each Monday at around 10.45am, everyone who works on the MSN homepage gathers for a weekly planning meeting.
Its purpose is to map out as much of the ensuing seven days as possible – to provisionally assign this or that article to this or that time of day, to anticipate likely news events, to commission content to cover a particular occasion or issue, and to discuss how best to utilise features being planned and written by all of MSN UK’s journalists.
The intention is to finalise running orders for each homepage through to the following Monday. The reality is often different.
These meetings are intense affairs, frequently stretching up to and beyond an hour. They’re sometimes frantic, sometimes whimsical. Opinions are voiced and arguments put. Suggestions are accepted and dismissed in equal measure without hesitation. Other decisions are mulled over from a multitude of angles, only to be set aside and reconsidered at a later date.
Predictably, though, something that will have been fussed and fretted over for ages later gets dropped for a more topical article about a big news story. Today’s line-up has already changed twice, first to replace a story about the history of the PlayStation with GQ’s best and worst dressed men, second to incorporate an opinion piece written by Tom, our news editor, on the ongoing Iranian crisis.
This morning’s meeting was even more of a roustabout than usual thanks to the Easter holiday necessitating drawing up a schedule for the homepage running right through to next Tuesday. We’re not a 100% news-orientated site like the BBC, but neither are we divorced from the real world. Who knows what will be making the headlines one week from now on Easter Monday and which would merit extensive homepage coverage. Further twists in the Iran saga? The death of a world leader? A snap general election? A heatwave in the Highlands?
For all the time you can spend in meetings anticipating and agitating, nothing beats real life when it comes to delivering a good story. And there’s nothing we should expect more than the unexpected.
Especially during a holiday.