Newsrooms already gather extensive amounts of information regarding future news events. Publicists send reporters digital stacks of press releases. (I’ve worked as a publicist and a journalist, in that order. I know of what I speak.) But press releases are just the beginning – reporters also track calendars published by government agencies; they follow court dates for high-interest cases; and they subscribe to industry newsletters for their beat or obsession. Most importantly, they work their sources for leads. The heads-up for what will happen is one of the most prized tips a source can pass to a reporter. Yet because this gathering of “future news” information is essential to the reporting process, there are almost as many methods and systems for storing that information as there are journalists. I’ve spoken to some editors who track events in a newsroom-wide calendar, while other reporters keep events listed in a bare-bones text file. Others use spreadsheets, both private and shared among colleagues; and still others use sticky notes, both digital and the old-fashioned kind. The fact that different reporters and newsrooms all have their own processes for an industry-wide behavior means that it’s highly likely that a lot of wasted effort is taking place within and among news outlets. For instance, multiple reporters at one publication might be tracking the same event in different ways for different stories.


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