‘We should merge online and print newsrooms’

Says Jens Seidel, Managing Director of Funkinform, signifying how they serve the high standards of publishers with innovations like storytelling and planning modules, cloud technology and CRM in an agile and sustainable manner. Funkinform is technology partner for more than 70 media houses in Europe. They implement innovative software solutions for online, mobile and print.

Jens Seidel
Jens Seidel

Today’s editorial systems are enormously complex. In your view, what has changed in this respect in the last years?

Publishers today expect that the high layout quality, such as we take for granted in print products, should be guaranteed also for presentation in various online channels. It is no longer a case of publishing content online in any shape or form. Information presented in the web as well as on mobile devices should be displayed in a high typographical quality and with an appealing layout. For this, news media should have as far as possible an integrated system in order to enable editors to optimally place news stories for print and news portals in a functional and layout-oriented way.

Many newsrooms are currently considering ‘online first’, meaning that not all content which lands in the web must necessarily also run in print. But it is important for newsrooms to have the possibility to feed all channels via one platform. There is at present a major trend on the systems side towards so-called storytelling modules that serve to elaborate and present the news stories so that they appear in an appealing way to the reader. This should also include the integration of audio channels, for example, with a link to Alexa. Another important aspect is the possibility of mobile production. All these modules and functions must be tailored precisely to meet the specific requirements of the publisher concerned.

Is it already commonplace for newsrooms to work with an integrated system?

Newsrooms today mostly continue to work with two different systems for print and online. From our point of view, it is better to merge the online newsrooms with the print newsrooms. In many modern publishing companies it is already established practice for the newsrooms to concentrate on the content and the story while other colleagues ensure that it is optimally distributed – on newspaper pages or via news channels. In many cases today it is no longer the editor who produces the newspaper pages, but the so-called operator. This is leading to an efficient assignment of tasks, ultimately resulting in specialisation.

Is new technology therefore driving change in the organisation of the publishing operations?

In many cases the required technology that could support such organisational changes is not yet in use. The greatest difficulty, however, is mostly that the publishers think in terms of newspaper pages. For example, the editors in the local sports section know that they have to fill a half to a full newspaper page on any given day. They concentrate on this and do their research accordingly instead of focussing on the content independently of the medium concerned. Publishers and editors-in-chief would like to change this and structure everything in such a way that optimal use can be made of the new technology. But, naturally, this cannot be achieved from one day to the next.

How important is the speed with which news can be published?

That is a decisive point. The aim is to become more agile and get the content to the communication market as fast as possible. Everyone must be the quickest in his region to communicate a news story, because when people find out that something has happened and input the keywords to a search engine, naturally the publisher wants to guide the readers to his website.

Do reporters make much mobile use of editorial platforms today?

Our customers are very interested in the mobile working option. Today, reporters can freely decide whether they want to work with a tablet, smart-phone, notebook or desktop PC – they can use all devices to produce content quickly. All they must do is to write a brief accompanying text and already it lands in the editorial system and can be output on news portals. We are constantly working on further developing such options.

To what extent does this correlate with the use as a cloud solution?

If you have a mobile editor that you can use to produce newspaper pages and feed online media, then this can be highly compatible with a cloud solution. Several major companies have already decided in favour of this approach. But we repeatedly encounter publishing companies that, for security reasons, do not want to have content, as their most important capital, stored in a cloud.

To what extent do news media today still build their own editorial and CM systems?

There is naturally one aspect that we should not forget where editorial systems and CM are concerned: For publishers, the topic of print and newspaper continues to be a positive generator of turnover. For this reason they require editorial and CM systems that are compatible with print. Editorial systems for print call for decade-long experience and corresponding developer capacities to build the correct editors. Most publishing companies do not have the necessary resources and should therefore concentrate on content production and marketing. They must also themselves continually further develop and support ‘homemade’ systems, and that is a problem for the publishing companies. There are large operations, such as The Washington Post, that market their own editorial system also to other publishers, thus creating a business sector in its own right.

In your experience, how long do such change processes require up to a new organisation and suitably integrated systems technology?

As far as the innovation and change processes at the publishing companies are concerned – that can naturally vary to a large degree. But, for example, if a publishing operation wants to now orient its strategy completely towards ‘online first’ and introduces new systems to this end – a new editorial system with CRM, an advertising and distribution system – then the total time required for the project will quickly reach two years. But this includes all project stages, from evaluating and selecting systems up to going live and transforming the processes.

(This article is reproduced with permission from: https://www.ifra-expo.com/
IFRA World Publishing Expo)

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