Six months after fully incorporating a new CMS designed to wed print and digital content under a single framework, The Washington Post continues to tweak the platform.
"As with any major project - I see this as akin to replacing, one by one, the engines of a plane that is flying - there have been and continue to be bumps and growing pains," Post Managing Editor Raju Narisetti told News & Tech. "When we replace a finely-tuned decades'-old system with a new one, it will take a while to fully settle down.
"I strongly believe our newsroom needs to be in a permanent beta stage to handle competitive challenges and news demands so we will always be fine-tuning the publishing system."
The Post in March flipped the switch on the last part of its deployment of EidosMedia's Méthode CMS to anchor its editorial management, finishing a project that began in June 2010.
Today, more than 600 users, ranging from reporters and editors to software developers and IT staff, access the platform, which includes Méthode, Portal Server and other EidosMedia modules.
Among the platform's main benefits: the multichannel publishing module, which allows writers to distribute content among separate channels, including online and print, simultaneously and without manual intervention.
From many to one
The paper replaced 15 separate apps and other services with EidosMedia, Narisetti said. "Overall, we remain comfortable and pleased with the choice," he said.
Narisetti said The Post is far more nimble and able to react to breaking events with the new CMS, "especially in launching new Web pages and features."
The Post, he said, has enjoyed record traffic on its washingtonpost.com website, with audience engagement up every month. August's earthquake and Hurricane Irene further boosted traffic to The Post's website.
"While not all the credit goes to a publishing system, it has been a key enabling factor," he said, adding that since rolling out the CMS, transparency has increased while task duplication has been reduced, another benefit for staff-constrained newspaper operations.
The platform also helped the printed edition, Narisetti said, enabling the newsroom to continue moving toward a more integrated print-Web-mobile operation. It raised the veil on the editing process, allowing people to see how stories are modified throughout production.
The flexibility of the platform was cited by Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli as part of the reason why the paper decided to close some regional offices, thus saving expenses related to rent and equipment. "With the savings from ending unnecessarily expensive leases, we will invest in technology that will enable us to file from anywhere, at any time, to any platform," he said in a memo.
The Post also integrated EidosMedia with its SAP-powered ad management platform, providing a crucial link between the two operations.
EidosMedia is administered onsite at The Post's Washington headquarters, with the vendor providing 24-hour support as needed.
The Post is among several U.S. newspapers using EidosMedia to consolidate its online and print editorial management. The Seattle Times, Dow Jones & Co., The Boston Globe and The Denver Post have either rolled our or plan to roll out the platform, with The Denver Post also using the software to manage production of its YourHub hyperlocal publication. The Post, which will go live with Méthode for its printed edition next year, is the first paper to use the software to enable users to generate content for YourHub.com, which spans 11 sites and associated weekly print editions.