01. The day planner

A journalist is plagued by an obsession: what’s new ? He’s hungry for news that he can share with the world. He needs to know what’s going on, so he can tell others about it. But his mission as a truth bringer forces him to separate actual news and irrelevant, or worse, untrue ones. He manages to do so thanks to an inventory of truthful, accountable news he writes up on his day planner. 

A well organized day planner = a quality newspaper

The quality content in a newspaper is proportional to the day planner’s. A serious planner is divided in three schedules :

Hot news : a daily list of what’s happening today and that’s been announced by trusted sources. It helps prepare your copy. For example : tomorrow I’m planning 1 & ½ column for a recap of the President’s speech that’ll take place this afternoon.

Coming next : things to do so as to organize how the news will be covered over the days, weeks, or months to come. It helps anticipate. For example : I need to schedule meetings to assess current public discontentment before the anniversary of the civil strife from last year.

Selected stories : high added value, personal topics. This schedule helps you plan stories built to add side-information to bigger stories, or that go against the tide. For example: the news is depressing… I’m going to interview the local baker; he’s always so funny.

When working in team, it’s better to use a collective day planner.

Five windows to open every day :

The first daily gesture of a news finder : opening the windows through which you can see the news fields.

There are five natural windows : the radio, the TV, the Internet, the press… and your local bar.

You get in touch with the news by listening to the radio, watching television, browsing the web, reading the freshest news, and keeping your ears open in the nearest café or when you’re at the bakery. Therefore… get up early !
Such daily discipline allows fo r:

  • Updating the planner with other media’s forecasts.
  • Evaluating your own production: you compare it to that of your fellow journalists. It will help you avoid the deadly sin of self-congratulation.

The morgue, documents = added value

(For a newspaper, the morgue is not the place where you store the dead bodies, rather past editions).

If you want to improve your work performance, your second daily gesture should be : piling up information from other media. Comparing my production to that of others brings me knowledge on the topics I have to cover. The more well documented you are, the better your story will be.

A pair of scissors is enough, every day, to pick, choose, and archive the clippings. The sum of these clippings, classed in chronological order or thematically, brings you the added comfort of a personal library… something which quite helps on your quest for added value.

Careful ! It’s a trap !

The day planner is not a holy book. It never sums up EVERYTHING that’s going on. You’ll get trapped if you submit to the law of plannings ruled by PRs.

Something to ponder

Once I’ve thought about the different ways to turn my daily budget into actual stories, I need to ask myself one last, crucial question : what else can I do, what can I improve so that my newspaper’s content is more relevant, more informative than rival newspapers ?