Posts Tagged ‘Saxotech’

Didn’t notice the change in your paper? Good.

Thursday, January 22, 2015
This is a copy of the last page the Daily Mail produced using Quark Express, part of its old publication system.

This is a copy of the last page the Daily Mail produced using QuarkXpress, part of its old publication system.

At left is the Friday, Dec. 26, 2014, edition of the Daily Mail’s Sports agate page, which has scores, stats and standings from local, college and pro teams. It probably doesn’t look too much different from the one in today’s paper. And that’s good.

Why? If you’ve been a longtime subscriber to our print edition — and if you aren’t, click here — the only changes you noticed in your paper probably came with the design we updated last winter. But from the production standpoint, a whole lot of things have changed.

About a year and a half ago, Charleston Newspapers contracted with SaxoTech, now News Cycle Solutions, to update a computer and programming system that had been in place for about 20 years, which is a long, long time, given the rapid pace of technology.

For an analogy of what was required, consider the components that comprised the old home entertainment center: a tuner, a turntable, a tape deck, a compact disc player, speakers, a VCR and a television set — about seven machines needed to provide music and video. These days, you can access all that with your average smartphone.

The Daily Mail, Gazette and Kanawha/Putnam Metro departments were using multiple programs that weren’t fully integrated; one was for writing stories, another for photos, another for page layout and one for uploading to the Internet. Our publications needed a central hub to give these programs a home where they could “talk” to each other better.

So SaxoTech helped us corral these disparate elements into a “content management system” that made it easier get text, photos and video together for a story, both in print and online. It took several months first to translate the way our newsrooms worked into its new CMS environment; it took a couple more to teach our staffers how to use it.

Meantime Charleston Newspapers’ IT department was doing the gruntwork of making sure our computers here in the city could speak with SaxoTech’s cloud-based hubs in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. (And here I will give my kudos to our techs for pulling this process off: Diana Morris, Jenny Lilly, Bill “Woody” Horn, Rob Maupin, Steve Campbell, Joel Armstrong, Ron Phillips, John Jarvis and Steve Jones — I salute you. And a tip of the hat, as well, to our pre-press manager, Kent Sowards.)

I took a selfie of SaxoTech reps Susan Gallant, left, and Beth Hilbig at the end of the first week of the paper's go-live with its new content management system.

I took a selfie with SaxoTech reps Susan Gallant, left, and Beth Hilbig at the end of the first week of the paper’s go-live with its new content management system.

We went live with the new system on the first week of March with our implementation team — Susan Gallant and Beth Hilbig, who’d been our trainers from Day One — on-site to hold our hands, answer our questions and trouble-shoot any glitches in production. (To them I give thanks for their patience and guidance as we made the six-month transition.)

This is the first Sports agate page made entirely in inDesign, part of the Daily Mail's new CMS.

This is the first Sports agate page made entirely in Adobe InDesign, part of the Daily Mail’s new CMS.

While the newsroom was abuzz with nervous energy and the stumbles that come with doing something new, our papers rolled off the press with nary a hitch.

But — and there’s always a “but” — because it took a little while longer for our designer (me) and programmer to get our agate type formatted, we had two sections of the paper that were still done using the old system.

The News Digest weather package for page 3A was up and running in the new system by August. And by the end of December, the Sports agate page was ready to roll. So finally, and with little fanfare, the Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, edition of the Daily Mail became the first to be completed entirely in the new CMS.

And no one noticed. Which is fine by us.

Articles for you

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

If you’re a regular visitor to dailymailwv.com, you might have noticed a new feature on the right-hand rail.

It’s called “Articles for You,” and it’s meant to serve up stories, editorials and photos based on your stated interests.

This is still a work in progress and might still require some tinkering. For now, have fun playing with it until it settles.

Basically it allows you to pick among recommended topics like “Entertainment,” “Opinion,” and “Local Government” and then serves up content from the saved categories. It seems fairly handy, especially if you are a regular visitor to the site.

Around here we call the new feature “Audience,” and we hope you like it.

select

Welcome (almost) to our new website

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Come Monday (unless there’s a delay), readers will see the Charleston Daily Mail on a redesigned website.

The changes will relate to functionality more than appearance, and that’s on purpose. We don’t aim to confuse you. Our aim is to serve you better.

First a word of caution, though. We’re still learning to use this site. And we’re still ironing out some kinks.

So, although it will be new, it might not look like an improvement at first. Please bear with us.

This is a developmental version of our new website. It's similar to what exists, but should be more functional.

This is a developmental version of our new website. It’s similar to what exists, but should be more functional.

The new website should get better in several ways:

— It’ll be a flexible design, meaning it adjusts to whatever kind of screen you’re on. Ever try to read a story on a smartphone that you have to pinch and squeeze and move around until you can read it? This aims to resolve that problem.

— As time goes by, suggestions for more stories to read should get smarter. The system is designed to relate related content. You follow me there? Similarly, we should have an easier time providing in-article links to related content.

— It’s going to make it easier for us to build photo galleries. People love to click click click the photos by our great photo staff.

— Behind the scenes, we’ll have an easier time determining what content is resonating with people and what is less so. We’ll have greater efficiency too. What we’re doing links directly links our print workflow to our digital workflow. (They were separate systems before.) This doesn’t affect you directly, but we’re pretty excited.

We’re moving from an airplane to a rocket ship. Please excuse us while we learn to use the controls.

Meanwhile, join us on our digital journalism adventure: www.charlestondailymail.com