The needs of both digital and legacy news teams are progressively being aggregated into one system at many stations. But there still plenty of pain points to go around.
Look no further than Fox Television Stations’ Minneapolis operation for an example of how digital and traditional TV coverage can flow through one multiplatform managing editor. “He is very versed in digital content and what makes a story successful online, and he knows how to also have the content make sense on the TV side,” said Emily Stone, director of multiplatform content at Fox’s WTTG Washington, during a NewsTECHForum session on integrating digital and TV production Monday.
That example of how to make traditional news and digital news align in efficient ways is an indication that news operations are starting to find their footing with integration at the same time they deal with a lot of pain points — not the least of which is aligning the thought processes of people involved, dealing with all kinds of different video formats and efficiently managing the vast quantity of available news material.
Hearst Television has solved some of the staff organizational issues with the notion of so-called centers of excellence. For example, “we have some people who focus on national content and make sure that it’s published across all the platforms properly. And we have another team that focuses on social, so if there’s a breaking story on a particular station, they’ll bring that story on a social platform nationwide,” explained Joe Addalia, director of technology projects at Hearst.
The process of changing the “hearts and minds” of people who are working in the digital realm and the traditional realm is particularly tricky at operations where the newsroom is also servicing the needs of radio and/or newspaper stations, noted Dave Siegler, Cox Media Group’s VP of technical operations. “I don’t think anybody has fully figured this thing out,” he said.
Frederic Roux, VP of sales, Americas, at Dalet — which provides end-to-end workflows for video operations — recalled his company’s work helping NBC build a newsroom about 10 years ago that was platform agnostic. “They realized they needed to break down the silos [between digital and traditional news teams] but in order to do that they needed a different type of system.” The needs of both digital and legacy news team members had to be aggregated into one system.
Other panelists discussed how their content management systems have gradually evolved. Fox has been through a “couple of iterations” with a CMS from an outside vendor, said Stone.
In contrast, Cox started out seven years ago creating their own CMS from scratch. “We learned a lot, like we’re not good at writing software,” said Siegler, to the amusement of the audience. Three years ago, Cox bought two CMS’s from outside vendors and the company is about to get rid of them in favor of one common system.
“Asset management is such a critical part of it,” said Siegler. “You might have content living in two different worlds. It’s best if you don’t. But at least if you do, they need to be talking, and compatible.”
One of the key issues for Hearst’s Addalia is how the digital news team can access the news material when 75% or more of the news editing is done in the field. The news photographer or editor who’s in the field typically doesn’t have the time to re-cut a segment for digital. “So one of the pain points is, how do you make this raw video available to the team back at the station or a central location [so they can] pull the raw video, associate it to the story with the right metadata and get it back to a container that people can work from.”
There are systems that help with that, and Hearst is working with some of them, but it’s an evolutionary process, Addalia added.
Cox’s Siegler noted that one of the outstanding technical issues that needs to be addressed is better search and discovery of news content. “We’ve got all kinds of formats that are being thrown at us like video from cell phones, and there’s all kinds of formats and resolutions. If there’s a consumer out there that happens to get video of a plane crash in a corn field and it’s on a phone, we want that content first. But you’ve still got to get it to fit on TV.”
Fox’s Stone noted that there are a variety of tools that can help news operations with content gathering for social. But one of the pain points for her is making sure the stations have rights to found content. What’s more, “one of the things that I haven’t seen yet is a collaborative workflow tool that’s fully functional.”
Dalet has lots of solutions that help with media asset management and multiplatform distribution. But its work is hardly done. Roux noted the need to redevelop a whole chain of tools that change the way news people use, visualize and share content. “With the idea of aggregating all those feeds, we’re looking at AI services to tag the content, and in the long run build a recommendation engine,” he said.
For complete NewsTECHForum coverage, click here.