media creators

Why Every Online Publication Needs an Editorial Calendar

editorial calendar An editorial calendar is essentially the plan for the next month, or even several months, of what's going to be published on your site. The length will depend on how often your publish, but even those who don't publish every day or every week can still find value in an editorial calendar. Here's why every blog or online publication needs an editorial calendar, whether your publish four times a day or four times a month.

It Forces You to Come Up with Article Ideas in Advance

Consistency is huge when running an online publication. Miss a day or two and your audience will notice that something is going on. The more often you publish, the more consistency matters and the harder it is to deal with writer's block or getting something out in a time crunch. This is where the editorial calendar comes in. If you need an idea, then simply refer to the calendar. If you release a new post every Wednesday, then all you need to do is look at the calendar on Monday or Tuesday and get writing. No longer will time be wasted scrambling for an idea because that time would have been spent beforehand coming up with all sorts of ideas to fill your calendar.

Note: This doesn't mean that you can't do something in response to breaking news, or a post on something you thought about that day. The editorial calendar and impromptu writing are not mutually exclusive. This tool is there so you don't have to waste time staring at a blank screen coming up with an idea. You have a whole list of ideas to choose from.

It Can Help Attract Advertisers

If you are making money from your blog or online publication, or want to start making money, then think of the editorial calendar as a way to attract advertisers that match the content you will product as well as your audience. For example, if you are a tech blog, and you are going to spend a week in October entirely on apps, then you can use your editorial calendar to show potential advertisers some of the topics that you are going to cover. If you are going to have an article or two about health apps, then potential advertisers might want to advertise on that day or week. They may also want to contribute sponsored content that adds an additional perspective, as a such a topic will interest very specific brands. The revenue is not only valuable to you, but the advertisers benefit from targeting that's based on who will read that article, and not just who will read your overall site.

It Can Be More than Article Ideas

The most basic editorial calendar just has topics or blog post titles listed when they are supposed to be published. That's great, but the editorial calendar can also include much more information than that. Below are some good ideas to include on your template (or use this one from HubSpot, which is really good).:

  • Category/Type (ex. Recipe, How-To)
  • Tags/Keywords
  • Photo/Illustration
  • Author
  • Status
  • Publication Location (if you have multiple blogs or often guest post)
  • Note
  • Deadline
  • Reception (keep track of how many tweets, likes, or pins the post got)

If you don't want to create your own or use the one from HubSpot, then Wordpress has two really good editorial calendar plugins: Editorial Calendar and Edit Flow. Anyway, the point here is that it can be for more than post ideas. Use it to come up with your tags and keywords prior to writing the article. Use it to track the success of your articles after the fact. It's also a good tool if you have several writers on staff, so that you can manage what all of them are doing and what progress they are making with a little more ease.

Overall, the editorial calendar is an incredibly handy tool. Even the solo blogger who is writing for fun can benefit by saving time and reducing the stress of what should be a hobby and stress-relieving activity. There aren't many reasons why you shouldn't use an editorial calendar.

Related Links:

How to Write a Press Release for Your Blog

Why Every Online Publication Should Have a Style Guide

How to Treat Your Blog as a Business


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What a Koch Brothers Newspaper Purchase Would Mean for News

Koch Brothers newspaper purchase It's rumored the billionaire industrialists David and Charles Koch are considering a purchase of the Tribune Co. a media conglomerate that includes titles such as the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Baltimore Sun. Although neither the Koch Brothers, or their spokesperson, have confirmed or denied the rumor, such a possibility is a dangerous one if it were to become reality. Here's what we think a Koch Brothers newspaper purchase would have on the news industry and the news we get:

Further Consolidation Would Decrease News Quality

Information from diverse, competitive, and independent sources is vitally important to the health of a democracy, and a Koch Brothers newspaper purchase would only consolidate the media further and decrease the diversity, competitiveness, and independence of our news and its sources. We already don't hear enough about what's going on outside of the United States, and the facts that affect the issues. We don't need more of the same. Just how consolidated is the media already? Here's a quick rundown of who owns what, according to Common Cause:

Viacom owns CBS; General Electric owns NBC; Disney owns ABC; and News Corporation owns Fox Broadcasting Company.  ABC's corporate parent is the Walt Disney Company.

Disney owns 10 television stations, 50 radio stations, ESPN, A&E, the History Channel, Discover magazine, Hyperion publishing, Touchstone Pictures, and Miramax Film Corp.  Viacom owns 39 television stations, 184 radio stations, The Movie Channel, BET, Nickelodeon, TV Land, MTV, VH1, Simon & Schuster publishing, Scribner, and Paramount Pictures.  General Electric owns 13 television stations, CNBC, MSNBC, and Bravo.  News Corp. owns 26 television stations, FX, Fox News Channel, TV Guide, the Weekly Standard, New York Post, DirecTV, the publisher HarperCollins, film production company Twentieth Century Fox and the social networking website MySpace.

Do we really need (or want) the Koch Brothers in the mix?

The Koch Brothers Don't Need More Influence

The brothers' spent hundreds of millions in the 2012 election. Granted, they did not get the results they wanted, but that doesn't mean their money doesn't carry a big stick and influence a few people (okay, many people). Not only don't the Koch Brothers need newspapers and televisions stations to their arsenal, but adding newspapers and television stations would give them much more power to influence than they already have. Newspapers may be a dying species, but they certainly aren't a discredited species. Newspapers would give these two men much more ability to spread their message than ever before, and with much more credibility than ever before. This opens up the possibility that the news these entities deliver will not be the same, or will not be an honest reflection of what's happening in the world. The Los Angeles Times may end up with a new owner, but who that new owner is won't change the minds of those who read the LA Times. Most of those people will still think it's a great paper, and might not notice a shift in content and stance (presuming there will be a shift in content and stance if the Koch Brothers were to own these newspapers and television stations).

Overall, a Koch Brothers newspaper purchase would be detrimental for news. It doesn't need further consolidation, especially consolidation into the hands of the rich and powerful. The Koch Brothers have also demonstrated that they will use their assets to affect change in policy and in who gets to be in government, and having news entities has assets will only better enable them to do those things (whether the idea of the Koch Brothers changing policy or deciding who gets to be in government is a good one or not is debatable). Not sure if the purchase can be stopped, or if allowing someone else to make the purchase is necessarily better, but a Koch Brothers newspaper purchase isn't good at all.

3 Big Principles for Media Creators

media creation Blogs and online publications are now part of the news industry, major media creators with large audiences and even larger influence. Whether you just started your blog yesterday, or you've been operating your online publication for several years, hopefully you operate by a few principles to ensure that you're providing quality news and quality work. If you don't have principles, or haven't taken the time to think about them, then here are three big principles for committed media creators:

1. Do your homework, and then do some more.

This one refers to both doing the necessary research before starting on an article or blog post, as well as fact checking information before putting it onto your site. It's incredibly easy to find what you need online and even to write a blog post based on what you found online, it's still not the same as making phone calls, digging through paper records, and in-person interviews. Do these when you can so as to avoid assuming something is happening or creating unnecessary commotion, as in the case of this blog post, where it would have been very simple to ask a few questions and to talk to the right people.

2. Get it right, every time.

Michael Arrington, founder and former editor of TechCrunch, once said, “Getting it right is expensive, getting it first is cheap.” Sure, getting out first has its benefits: increased clicks, the credibility of breaking a good story first, increased page views. And sure, if you get something wrong, you can amend the article or issue a correction at the bottom where no one might see it. Plus, if you do get it wrong, it's highly likely you won't lose your blog or online publication.

However, you don't want to make getting it first and making mistakes a habit. It's only a matter of time before you get more than a fact, or a name wrong, but an entire news story. A recent example of this is the Google purchase of ICOA, which was picked up by many media outlets before it was found to be a hoax. Let's not forget the ridiculous example of the LAPD purchasing jet packs, which is a perfect example of why principle number one needs to be followed. We can go on and on with fake news stories, but our point has been made here.

3. Practice and demand transparency.

This is one of the newer and more controversial principles for media creators. Before the Internet, transparency was not something that the audience demanded from newspapers and the radio. Transparency isn't necessarily something that's required of every blog and online publication today. However, if your blog or online publication does maintain a specific world view or bias, then that should be clear and revealed to readers. Transparency would also mean admitting to conflicts of interest as well as admitting to mistakes and corrections when they happen.

Do you have any media principles of your own to share? If so, please share them in the comments!

Related Links:

How to Treat Your Blog as a Business

Covering and Publishing a Beat

How to Write a Press Release for Your Blog