The Digital Asset Management (DAM) system DC-X has become the heart of the software landscape at the Ringier media group in Switzerland. It is the central software used to create content in a media-neutral way before making it available for online, print and mobile publishing.
It is just after 1 pm, and Ringier’s newsroom in Zurich is buzzing with activity. Stefan Meier, head of the sports department, is working on an article about a tennis player involved in a racism scandal. The story has been online since the early hours, a shorter version of it has been published in the free evening paper Blick am Abend, and yet another version is scheduled to appear in the daily Blick, which will go into print at midnight.
Stefan Meier’s web browser displays the Digital Asset Management System DC-X, a software combining News Monitoring, Semantic Search, Archiving, Rights Management and Content Creation. At Ringier, the system is called “Central Media Database” – and the name says it all.
ONE SYSTEM FOR ALL CHANNELS
DC-X is the cross-editorial and cross-national depository for all Ringier content. It is here that agency wires and photos come in, that journalists research and write their articles, that picture editors look for material and that articles and pages are archived and held for further processing. APIs based on JSON and AtomPub connect DC-X to the other systems used by Ringier:
Content is created in a media-neutral way using the DC-X Story editor before being delivered to the different channels. According to Marco di Bernardo, Head of Innovation & Platforms, “one of the big advantages of DC-X is that it is extremely easy to connect to other systems using standard technologies.”
Back in the newsroom, Stefan Meier is now using this morning’s online story to create a version for the daily paper. After making a few print specific cuts and changes, all he needs to do is to assign the story to “Woodwing” and to choose the target publication, issue and section, thereby connecting to the Woodwing database in realtime. A trigger at the system interface transfers the print story to the Woodwing system. As a result of this, the story – now labelled with the status “Woodwing” – is blocked from further use in DC-X. Corrections can still be applied using InCopy; they are automatically written back to DC-X. The editor is now done with this article and can deal with other topics.
Before DC-X was introduced at Ringier, Stefan Meier and his colleagues had to create a separate story for each publication in every system, which made it hard to keep track and to organize the content consistently. “The new system is very simple”, the editor says. “We learned how to work with it really fast“.
DC-X is produced by Hamburg based software supplier Digital Collections. “The demand for our systems is currently growing”, says CEO Ole Olsen. “Primarily – at least, that’s what we think – because we offer an entry into channel-independent workflows at very low costs, thus creating tremendous synergies in the editorial departments.”
AT THE HEART OF THE NEWSROOM
At Ringier, the introduction of DC-X was part of an extensive restructuring effort aimed at abolishing the limits between Print and Online. For the Swiss media company to choose DC-X as its new central system, it had to meet three requirements: Firstly, users should be able to access as many data as possible. Secondly, it should be possible to create content in a media-neutral format.
“We want the journalist to find pictures, videos and text documents in one place, and we want him to write articles in one place”, Marco di Bernardo explains. “Before, you opened a Word document in order to write a text. In the future, this will be done with DC-X.” This is how DC-X became the group-wide standard and the heart of the software landscape in the Ringier newsrooms. In the words of IT Business Engineer Silvano Oeschger, “The whole life of the normal journalist takes place in the DC-X Story Editor”.
The third requirement was that the system should have a web client, enabling users to access it at any time and from anywhere. As a reporter, Jessica von Duehren is always out and about – in Zurich, elsewhere in German-speaking Switzerland and in Germany. She writes her articles directly on the ground, using the DC-X Story Editor. “It’s very handy that you can just use the browser to log into the system via the browser”, she says. “This way, I can write wherever I am – in the car or in the courtroom.”
It is now late afternoon in the newsroom, but for Flavio Cellana, the working day has only just begun. His first task is to design a double spread for the sports section. Stefan Meier’s tennis article will be part of it. One of Cellana’s two screens is tiled with InDesign panels showing him which DC-X elements are available for which article. He simply takes what he needs without even having to access the DC-X user interface. “When I’m done with the layout, I change the status to ‘desk’”, he explains. “Then, the producer can take over.”
BIG PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
The new workflows in the Blick newsroom are only the first steps on the way to a bigger scenario for the future. “The strategy is really simple”, Marco di Bernardo says. “We want to create an integrated content platform” – for the journalists in Zurich and Lausanne are not the only ones using the system. 700 Ringier employees are already working with DC-X – and another one of their publications starts using it nearly every day. But there is still more to be done: The media group employs 6500 people in 15 countries and publishes more than 120 newspapers and magazines. The product portfolio also counts 70 homepages and 40 mobile applications.
“There are plans to provide content for print and online platforms internationally using DC-X”, Marco di Bernardo says. “We want to make it possible to quickly publish new products on the basis of existing content. Maybe one day, we’ll want to edit a travel magazine. That day, we’ll be able to fall back on the content of our different publications.”
Text: Nina Drewes, Digital Collections, July 2016