Tips for Building a Reporting Calendar

By: Jordyn Habib | 03/05/2024

From extreme climate events and armed conflicts, to major elections and more, journalists can feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of stories demanding coverage. Even with strong management skills, reporters may regularly find themselves playing catch-up on significant events as they unfold.

In a recent ICFJ Crisis Reporting Forum session, Community Manager Paul Adepoju discussed how journalists can leverage organizational skills to be more proactive about the stories they cover.



A helpful starting point

Setting up a personal reporting calendar can provide a helpful starting point for journalists looking for critical stories. 

Adepoju said he uses Google Calendar for this purpose, which he populates with important dates and developments he can peg his reporting to. “Over the years, in my experience in this ecosystem, there are some websites [and] international organizations that already have most of these things arranged for you,” Adepoju said. The United Nations’ calendar of international days and weeks includes notable dates when audiences will be more engaged on certain subjects. 

Adepoju  suggested journalists capitalize on the U.N.’s designated years, such as next year’s International Year of Glaciers’ Preservation. Glacier preservation is an example of a topic that isn’t time-sensitive, but which may gain extra traction if reported on during a year dedicated to raising awareness around it.

International Women’s Day, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the International Day of Zero Waste are other U.N.-designated days upcoming in March that Adepoju highlighted.


Tracking down sources and supporting information

Once important dates to peg their reporting to have been identified, journalists should research sources to contact.

The webpages for U.N.-designated dates are useful for this purpose as they often provide official documents visitors can reference to kickstart their reporting. Journalists can use resources like Google Scholar as well as major reports and publications from credible organizations for additional material to use in their reporting, Adepoju said.

Adepoju also suggested journalists add global conferences and conventions to their calendars. For example, in May the U.N. will be holding its 9th Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals

Many major events are often live-streamed today, offering more access to reporters.


Direct collaboration

Adepoju encouraged journalists to go the extra step and collaborate directly with international organizations to cover important events and publications. This could be approached as a symbiotic relationship between the reporter and organization. 

“If you know an international organization that is releasing a report, they are always interested in talking to journalists to amplify the reach of such a report,” Adepoju said. 

A reporting calendar isn’t a static resource: it should remain an active document that journalists utilize throughout the year. “By having this system in place, you have a free-flowing system that you can continue to work on. It's a live document, and is a live resource that will continually be updated,” said Adepoju.

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