‘Washington Post’ Selects EidosMedia for Merged Newsroom

By: Jim Rosenberg

A third large and distinguished U.S. daily has signed for the Methode system from EidosMedia S.p.A. The Washington Post this week followed the Seattle Times and The Wall Street Journal, both of which last year selected the Milan-based cross-media solution developer to supply their new publishing systems (E&P, July 2008).

Adoption of the system coincides with and supports last year’s decision by Post management to merge its print and online editorial operations. “Having separate newsrooms has reached the end. We have gotten as much out of it as we can,” former Web Editor Jim Brady (now consulting for the Guardian’s U.S. digital activities) told E&P last year. “We need to be in one building so we can learn what the other does.”

That change is now being brought about under new Executive Editor Marcus L. Brauchli, who before joining the Post did much the same for the Wall Street Journal. Originally next door to Post headquarters, the roughly 300 Web site staffers, roughly a third journalists, will return to Washington from their long-time home in suburban Arlington, Va.

The Post appointed two managing editors in January to lead the restructuring. Elizabeth Spayd was promoted from washingtonpost.com editor to overseee news gathering, editing and print production, while Brauchli’s former Journal colleague Raju Narisetti was hired to oversee the Style, Washington Post Magazine and Weekend departments, as well as video, design and photography, to run washingtonpost.com’s day-to-day operations, and to guide strategy and innovation in technology and interactivity.

A deputy managing editor at the Journal, Narisetti three years ago joined the parent company of India’s Hindustan Times, where he became founding editor of its national business daily, Mint, which launched using EidosMedia’s Methode.

Licensed for 250 concurrent users, the system, when in full use about a year from now, will support a total of approximately 700 people, according to Narisetti. Local and remote users will work on a mix of PCs running thick clients and browser-based clients, as needed, with system access from anywhere at any time. At this early stage no exact allocation has been determined. EidosMEdia even offers a Mac-based client for magazine production.

EidosMedia Group CEO Gabriella Franzini was in the U.S. through mid-week. Next month, a Post project team of about 10 persons will be in Milan to get the project started, said New York-based EidosMedia Inc. President Jo Ann Froelich, who assembled a 13-member U.S. project team in the last year, will add five more in the next three months, and see the transfer of several more employees from Europe.

Seattletimes.com Executive Producer Stanley Farrar also traveled east to discuss with EidosMedia plans to restart its delayed implementation of Methode in fall and to consult with Post personnel about system and organizational changes. As the Post will, the Times newsroom will convert from a CCI-Europe editorial system.

As at the Wall Street Journal, integration of the Post’s print and Web staff will precede implemention of its new publishing system, with the relocation to a remodeled newsroom to take place late this year, according to Narisetti. He estimates combined staffing should be the same or slightly less than what the newsroom’s print-side headcount was 18 months ago, owing to attrition and buyouts.

The Wall Street Journal began installing Methode 4.0 early this year, according to News Projects Vice President Jim Pensiero. “We’ve been testing it, tweaking it, retesting, etc. since then,” Pensiero related in an e-mail, adding that no changes were requested to the core of the system beyond those already made in the latest version.

Methode has page design and assembly built into its native-XML editor and pagination engine, which also relies on cascading style sheets and SVG page geometry. Copy processing requires no hand-off or conversion. The concurrent publishing model enables an editor to manage for distribution through multiple.

The scriptable system that may be used in print/Web-driven, layout/text-driven modes consists of two principal applications: the object-oriented database with Autonomy search engine, and the client, which, among other functions, offers budgeting, page planning and design, text entry and editing, a Web window, pagination, and online publishing. It also may be used to assign and track stories or pages and share data.

The database can be set up in familiar folders, and versioning templates can be created, with libraries established for SMS, Web, print, or other channels. Content dragged to a location is formatted for channel-appropriate presentation, including handheld devices’ display limitations.

This spring, WSJ Reports and Weekend Journal have been produced live with Methode, and Pensiero expects to add Personal Journal next week, the Opinion pages next month and move Marketing, Money and Investing and the front section to Methode through mid-August.

The Journal’s newsroom restructuring, begun last fall Methode has gone well, and use of Methode on feature sections “hasn’t radically changed the equation,” Pensiero writes.

“The main thing you notice right away is that Web versions of stories edited for the paper are posted much faster than before,” he continues. “I believe the big changes in how we work will come when we bring the breaking-news sections of the paper into the system. That will make the entire news-editing operation work faster and better [and] fulfill our goal of having one newsroom.”

Froelich notes that the New York Post’s redesigned Web site is set to go live on Methode in September. The Post and Journal are both News Corp. properties. EidosMedia staffed its U.S. offices on Wall Street just in time to see the Journal prepare to move its news operations from Lower Manhattan to News Corp. headquarters in Midtown, where about 60% of the staff now works. The rest are slated to move next Friday, according to Pensiero.

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