Late last week I learned that The Times now provides a news calendar.
It’s a great innovation – the events are organised into 5 categories; World Affairs, UK News, Sport, Arts, and Business. So if you’re a citizen journalist and your beat spans any of the above, you’ll find this source particularly useful.
Here’s the page on the site where you can download the appropriate files (depending on the calendar software you use – eg Google Calendar, Yahoo! Calendar, 30 Boxes, Kiko etc.). That said, there’s no support for Outlook, which is a pity as I imagine a lot of people use it for their calendars/diaries (I certainly do).
If you can’t be arsed faffing with the downloading and uploading iCal files and the like (it took me a couple of goes before I got it working in Google Calendar), you could always just bookmark the above page and use it as your own news calendar.
News International don’t have a monopoly on this useful initiative – back in August the Liverpool Post started a calendar to mark events celebrating the city’s capital of culture status.
Earlier still (and this seems still to be in the planning stages) it was announced that Associated Press plan to release their events listings database via an API at BBC Backstage. Great news for developers, but the rest of us will just have to wait (until the data has been supplied, and until some coders get their hands on it and do something useful with it) till we can put it to practice.
It shouldn’t be underestimated just how useful this may become – AP are providing this content free – in a market where other subscription-based forward planning service providers can make a killing out there.
Such tools are often way too expensive for most citizen journalists and students. But there are free alternatives, as well as techniques for keeping tabs of what’s coming up online – check this page on my website for a backgrounder on some sources that can help here.
Another place for future events I’ve found is Eventful. Though for now it appears to be used by Myspace and Facebook bands desperately trying to promote their gigs, it seems like somewhere worth bookmarking for when the ‘normals’ eventually take over, when more newsworthy events will start getting posted.
Check also this page in Mashable for several other sources for forward planning (many with a US-bias, I’m afraid).