When The Washington Post launched The Daily 202 newsletter last year, its newsroom was left with the arduous task of not only reporting a story, but plodding through a prolonged, complicated uploading process.
Eventually, the Post’s team of engineers figured they could solve the issue themselves by developing their very own newsletter platform called Paloma.
Launched earlier this year, the upgraded system is part of the Post’s custom publishing platform Arc and powers three of the newspaper’s more than 60 email newsletters, including The Daily Trail and The Optimist.
“Traditionally, relying on a third party vendor tends to pose a lot of problems. There’s less transparency with what the open rate really is from our readers and the tools provided are usually not adequate enough for the editors to put together quality content,” said Siva Ghatti, engineering director at the Post. “Essentially, Paloma makes everyone’s job a whole lot easier.”
According to Ghatti, the newsletters delivered through Paloma go through three different phases before they are even published. After the editors and reporters embed the necessary text, images and social media links into the newsletter, the engineering team ensures the content isn’t marked spam by any major email providers. As part of the final step, a sample of the newsletters are sent to the Post’s multiple email accounts to ensure the layout is correct and the platform’s built-in spam detection worked correctly.
“That’s one of the biggest problems we wanted to solve with Paloma. It sounds simple but people aren’t going to look at their spam folder,” Ghatti said. “Our open rate with these newsletters has now gone up because of it.”
While Paloma has been greeted with open arms by the newsroom, Ghatti said the task of migrating the remaining newsletters to the platform will be a gradual, closely examined process.
“We continue to tweak the editorial tools to make it as convenient and quick as possible for the newsroom editors to curate content,” Ghatti said.
James Hohmann, national political correspondent for the Post and a regular contributor to The Daily 202, said the problems staff encountered uploading through the previous system are a thing of the past with Paloma.
“It was onerous, took hours a night and it was exceptionally difficult to move things around within the file,” Hohmann said. “Now we just click one button and drop in whatever social media link we want. Compared to what we used to do in the summer of 2015, it’s a breeze.”