CMS Demos: Approaches to Helping Our Newsrooms Do Their Best Work
Session facilitator(s): Albert Sun
Day & Time: Friday, 4:15-5:30pm
ALBERT: Hello. How’s everybody doing?
[ Applause ]
Um, so I love CMSs and I hope everyone in this room does, too. And in the past, I’ve really liked — and when I’ve worked on CMSs in the past, I’ve loved when I managed to talk to people who worked on different CMSs and I would show them ours and they would show us theirs and it would be great to do that with way more people, and way faster. So and it’s great because you get to see how different people approach what is a hard and very similar problem but not a problem that is the same because every newsroom is different and this software is so important to how they function and so, today, we have quick demos of five CMSs. SWEF Anaïs Felt who would be showing Arc, and Sam showing Copilot, Divesite showing, and Vox showing Chorus, and Sharon showing New York Times Scoop. Everyone has 12 minutes. We’re going to try to keep things running smoothly. There is video of the demos that will be available later, I hope. And I think we’ll have five, ten minutes at the end for questions. I know that will not be enough. Okay.
ANAÏS: Okay. I think that was on. I think you overheard the introduction. I’m Anaïs and I work at Washington Post and I’m on the publishing team. And I was one of the first hires and I do not come from a traditional journalism background before I started working for this company. And so I can come from a consumer background and it’s been interesting hearing from different journalists and their pain points. So I wanted to share you something from a product that we’ve launched called Fireworks and I’m very excited to share that to people outside of the Washington Post, but just to give you a framework of what I’m talking about before I delve in, this is a basic way of thinking of our ecosystem. We have a content creation tool, and a management of the workflow, and testing and all of this is delivered through our PageBuilder experience and we build custom websites, as well, for all the good things that’s happening in our newsroom and then we’ve built a monetization platform this year that helps you monetize what you’re building. So I’m going to share a new thing we’re building called Broadcast. So Broadcast basically allows you as a journalist in the field to stream to television, and also to all social platforms at the same time so you can pull it up on your phone when it’s a breaking event you just want to interview someone or you have something that you want to capture. You press the record button and it captures your data so you can that had title. So we can add “test 3” add a blurb and then you select a channel. And then you frame up the shot. That is, if our AWS resources are working correctly. So we are built on AWS, which is really nice because we can put in feature requests in which is really helpful.
So you’re looking at the CMS right now. So I’m the journalist streaming from the field and I could also be — I’m also a video editor right now back in this room, and here you can see all the different channels are live. Let’s hook into it and see what’s going on. As an editor, I can add as much metadata that I’d like, and add a page like YouTube or Facebook live and then you can look at — we started building this four weeks ago. SDK only allows us for doing horizontal.
[ Goes Sideways ]
[ Laughter ]
Live demos, right? We can also create lower thirds. So we just launched this. So instead of having to go through all of the production of setting all the studio up, setting all the equipment up, and getting all the people in the room. So we can set it up in the lower thirds and activate them as you go. So let’s say there’s breaking news, you can, be on the phone, or a walkie with someone in your newsroom, and you can say, can you put an alert out? There’s breaking news happening. It takes about 30 seconds to take up the resources. Let’s end the event, and it says it’s saved to Goldfish. Basically what’s happened it’s saving the VOD access. So this is the events portal where you can manage your live events. And then there’s VOD access where you can access them by creating wires, and it will create you a livestream that you can access afterwards. Let’s say you’re streaming live so your newsroom can quickly use those assets, clip them if they’d like to and do really anything that they want to.
We have a versioning here so you can clip it, download it, you can do anything you want to. So that’s basically, like, our video tool editor at a high level. You can then go into our editing tool and create a new article. We have different templates that you can set up and also just keep in mind that everything in Arc is completely configurable for your organization. So that’s kind of our selling point, that you can build anything on top of our API, a la carte. Here in our newsroom, you can do what works for you. We’ll just create a blank story.
And we’re also multisite. So I’m showing you a multisite instance right now. You can add multiple websites and then add the sections that you’d like to send it to throughout the website. If you’re just like a single-site organization, that doesn’t really matter to you. But if you’re like a Chompy, or if you have 50 websites like that, if you have multiple websites, you can send multiple content to multiple sites at the same time and have multiple URL structures for each of them. We’ll send to multiple websites, and planned ready time. Press save and then you’re into your article the cool thing is as soon as you press save, there is a refreshing tool called WebSked and that shows up in WebSked right after you press save. So you can get some high-level stats. Headline, too, you can see it right here.
Going back to WebSked, you can add that to Slack or email. So everything is connected. You can add in video. So if we’re going full circle here, we just streamed from phone, and then created a VOD access, and add a video to our article. We didn’t do that, though, so let’s find a video that’s published. So this one, and then you can publish. You can do it now or later. And all this comes together through the home page.
They have this tool called PageBuilder and, again, this is totally configurable for your organization, and it’s a very developer focused product as well as a developer focused problem. We have three main administrators, developers, editors, and content creators. So everything has to be developer friendly as well as content creator friendly. So we have interesting things like features. We have a thing called feature and the reason why it’s called that back in the day, and probably still, like, on a newspaper, it’s a feature. So the concept is that you can basically customize the features that you want for your home page. And the Washington Post home page is, for example, driven by PageBuilder so our hub will use PageBuilder so build their it own custom features and you can plug in your own custom engines into that, and plug that into WebSked and whatever you like, and it’s really extensible for your workflow, and you can curate things, and you can quickly add things, edit things, run headlines, and over time, look for the video content but also an article after, like, one article or video starts to catch fire then that will continually be promoted to users over time. So there’s a lot of things that you can do with Arc. I have Arc stickers and I’m happy to talk in-depth about use cases. But overall it’s a tool that’s equally friendly to your developers and content creators, that you can use out of the box for your startup or newsroom. Thanks.
[ Applause ]
SAM: All right. You got me? Okay. I’m Sam Baldwin. I’m the PM on Copilot which is Condé Nast’s CMS. And before I really get started, I just adopt to know that we’re hiring a product role for this tool and we’re remote friendly. So please come find me afterwards if you are interested. To talk about the history of Copilot for a second, about four years ago, folks at con day decided five weeks ago, ten weeks ago, that we needed a centralized solution. I think we’ve got 25 brands in the U.S., and 75 internationally and we decided we needed one tool to reign them all. And the roadmap has really been about onboarding brands. It was an endless log of onboarding brand after brand after brand. I got to inherit product after all that work was done.
So so many things about Copilot were informed by that. And so you’ll see again and again that brand customization, individual fields for brands, individual publish types for brands, we got another system that can do it. Epicurious, and a New Yorker long-form piece, all that in a bunch of different languages in different markets around the world. And so the thing kind of spiraled of control. And so if you were wondering why some things are the way it is as we’re going through the demo, it’s probably because the brand ate up that thing and agreed to be onboarded three years ago and we’re still untangling things. But like I was saying, the exciting thing now, as I took over as the product owner last October, that’s kind of done and so we’re kind of delivering on the promise of having stuff centralized and that’s really exciting. So that’s why Copilot’s going and why it’s psyched about it. So let’s just go and create a basic article. So here are all the brands and here is the U.S. instance of Copilot. And here I have the international instance of Copilot. One thing that we do to accommodate all our international users is you can go to profile and set the system language. So let’s go and set it to Spanish, and then go to GQ Taiwan. If it loads… and so, yeah, now we’ve got, you know, Chinese content with a Spanish-system language. And that’s kind of what may be this CMS has to do that not all of them do. We’ve got so much of the focus right now at Condé is about merging with different markets.
Prints is still doing some of them. And low-hanging things for us like strategy out of these new markets. So just getting the standard set of tools that a Wired U.S. needs to GQ Taiwan is a huge upgrade for them. So supporting this sort of thing has been a major push in the last couple years. But I’ll go through and just demo staging an article in Wired. Before I was in this role, I was the product lead at Wired for three years. So let’s just make one. In fact, I made one five minutes ago. Here it is! Nope, that’s Vogue Germany. Here we are. Wired article. One main difference between our international version of Copilot and our U.S.-based version is the presence of a rich-text editor. So we do not have a full rich-text editor in the U.S. So we’re working on that. So that’s kind of our main initiative right now. But everyone everybody in the U.S. at Condé writes Google Docs. I’m vegetarian so I like to use Veggie Ipsum. So here’s my fake story.
And I’m just going to go through it field-by-field because that’s the nitty-gritty that y’all want to see and that’s so much of what CMS work is — just mundane field work stuff. So when I pasted that text in Google, all the formatting was preserved which is probably the single best thing we’ve done in terms of improving editorial efficiency over the last couple of years. We’ve had this metric of how could we take an article to stage in Copilot and then we added that feature…
SAM: Improved by about 10%. So that was a big deal. The other thing we have is a lot of our brands set print workflows. And they have this kick-file format some of you might know prism XML. So this is a random GQ product on my desktop and that can also be ingested but I can leave it as the — let’s go back to this. So what else? A lot of our fields, we’ve got this magic-wand thing that really helps efficiency. I’m just going to add a photo quickly.
This is one I took of my garden last week. Is he set content sources to false. And there are a lot of sources that are dependent on the content source. So if you select magazine, or something, you’re going to have various canonical sources and all that.
AUDIENCE: What did the magic wand do?
AUDIENCE: What did the magic wand do?
SAM: So the magic wand pre-fills — so here’s a good example. Here’s a social headline field. I don’t want to retype in the social headline field. If I click on the magic wand, it pulls in the social header field. Here I’m in the SEO area. Here, I’m going to say this is a newsy story about the Chicago Cubs, my team. And, well, look, there we are. Categories and taxonomies. Like, anybody else, let’s put this one just in the culture section broadly. And tags are moved away from a free-form tag field for all the reasons that you don’t want free-form tag fields and built tools for editors to consolidate those. And why they went from 15,000 tags to 3,000 tags. And for videos, let’s add one from CNE, Condé Nast Entertainment, it’s another weird arm that we work in. I have this tab. I’m not the product manager around it. I’m not going to demo it. But we have pipelines between it and Copilot and so here are all these videos. So I’m just going to add one. Here’s how we do slugs.
You also have a manually wand there but we allow people to see it and control it. And I’m going to save. And let’s preview.
TIM: Log out of WordPress.
SAM: Preview was working earlier. I’ll preview an international one. But one thing nice about preview is you can toggle through the front-end layouts here instead of having to see the change in story again. We’ve had recently had to do a lot of Apple News publishing. So Wired does not have an Apple News publish here. But we have the concept of distribution channels, and Apple News. That was all pursuant to the texture deal. I imagine we will add more things of that nature as more platforms become a big deal.
Something else that’s worth showing, I think, is our SEO tool. So this is only at a 35 right now which is a pretty bad score. These, we do not validate against this. We do not block people from publishing with bad scores but based on how these are filled out and the social fields — sorry, the source phrase, this has got a bunch of different factors. And the international editors especially love — some of these like GQ Mexico ranks a huge revenue 80% of their traffic, they gamify this getting that into the 80% to 85% range. So for brands that care about scale, this has been a good tool. I’ll briefly show in the last couple minutes, the editing experience. And on the international brands, we have this fancy rich-text editor called Gurnica.
And here it’s… I’m on vogue Germany now. It’s a nicer writing experience and there’s some nifty collaborative features here. I’m setting comment now and you can also go into full on writing/suggesting mode which, again, gives you different tools entirely. So delete that and let’s do a little thing here where we comment on it. Et cetera.
So this stuff is fancier and we aspired to get this working for our U.S. brands. Our U.S. brands are really opinionated about text editing and so it’s more of a process. But by the end of the year, we should have full rich text for everyone. Other than that, what else is cool? Oh, yeah. I could create a video — a photo quickly. Folks love our photo-cropping tool, which I think there was some — I know at least at Wired, the old WordPress photo copying tool, they had to set this whole prop and it was this whole problem so… so here’s a new photo. We imported all the other data. And this connects to a huge dam system that has all the photography — print-photo photography in it. And if this loads, it’s just a good cropping interface. Um… or not. It was working a few minutes ago.
But that’s basically Copilot. The way that home pages work is we’ve got the notion of a home page hole spots, and these can be stones in the river. So here, Wired is named things and these cards are manually curated but also you can define the parameters of the river with all these filters down here. So that’s how our editors put stones in the river. It mostly works. All right! I think my time is up.
[ Applause ]
BO: Cool. My name is Bo, and I work at Dive. It’s an industry-based media company based in DC. So we cover a bunch of construction very easily like waste, construction, education. A bunch of different things and our — this is what our home page looks like on Supply Chain Dive. Our CMS is built in Django and it was built by our CTO, and one of our senior in I think 2013. I believe they chose Django because it was kind of a startup time frame. They could get things up quickly and do everything in-house and it took very little customization and tweaking to get it doing the things that we needed it to do pretty quickly. And so that’s where it still lives and so far it’s worked out pretty well for us. Another big advantage is that we could really minutely control things like stories getting published for specific Dive sites only being shown to the editors of those Dive sites, keeping it all in one database. So on the backend, for us, it’s pretty easy to maintain. So I’ll go ahead and quickly run through how editors might use the news-post publishing features.
So… from the home screen, I’ve got the CMS. From there, we go to news posts. If you’ve used Django, this is all going to look very familiar. It’s really not customized a lot. So you can see, they have the workflow of the news posts is indicated over here. The approve news posts are either published or available for publication at that point. And then the senior editors can go into the managing editors can go in and see which ones they need to look at and what state they’re in.
And so, for instance, they could go to this story. They can check it out down here in our WYSIWYG editor. And once it’s approved, they can just go ahead and approve it. They can set it as “published” at that point, which does not make the story appear automatically anywhere in public, but you can now, at this point, go to the URL for that on a different page. So… whoops. On here. And so, this is — sorry, one second. Yeah, so this is how an editor would see it when they’re logged in to the CMS. They’ve got edit things and they’ve got warnings if it’s only in preview and it’s not published yet.
Once it is published, those warnings would go away — oh! Do you want to sign up? You should, it’s really great. So that is pretty easy for making your news posts. Something that that I think is cool is we prefill a lot of stuff. So if you go down here, you get this kind of template that helps to guide editors for what type of content they should do for different types of posts. If you’ve tried to save it with, like, this content, it would reject it. So if I’m writing a new story, since I’m not vegetarian, and I like to eat cheese burgers sometimes, I’ll give it a title. This is definitely an opinion, and is writing in progress. So it’s pretty much that straightforward.
Again, I would just go back, and edit things. We don’t have track changes in our CMS but we do have — you could use the Django admin stuff to go in and see edits from previous versions. We also have railblocking feature. So if you have one story open and somebody elsing opens one, it’ll say they can’t save because this has autolock open. And we also have background check, it’ll warn you just in case you walk away and —
ALBERT: Just keep going.
BO: So it’s relaying out the home page. There’s a little bit of a process to that. So as I mentioned, once a story’s published, it’s not necessarily discoverable on the site yet. And so that is what Administrator Dashboard does. And this also again is version controlled so people can go back to differently saved versions of it but what you would do to get a new story on is once you’ve published a site, you click this little guy to say it’s ready to go. And the reason we have it limited by that star feature is ‘cause there’s so much content at this point that loading a page like this and allowing everything to be there is kind of too much and we really just want to keep the freshest and most relevant content at once on the page. So editors can go in and drag and drop things off and we’ll make this the front story now. We’ll set this one over here. This one needs to come down because it’s not a top five anymore. So I’m going to save it, and publish it live. And then, over on our demo live site, it should be updated with our new front page story and our Data Dot Five stories. And pretend there’s a picture there of Amazon. So that’s what that’s like. Our other main feature is that our editors send out daily newsletters from most of the sites. And there’s also a Weekender newsletter that’s sent automatically and they do this, again, through our CMS.
So they would come in to the newsletter section of it, they would go to create today’s newsletter and it brings them right into this drag-and-drop screen similar to the one that you saw before. And so they could put in some top news and stories. Whatever they see fit. There’s a lot of options for adding custom content. So you can add advanced HTML, which is just raw HTML if you wanted to — a lot of times they use that for creating opinion polls that they would send to users and they want to get feedback or they want to put a link to a fancy graphic that they would want to link to. So let’s save this and you can preview it right here, and you can get everything that the readers are gonna see.
The good thing about this is that our CMS is pretty integrated in SaleThrough without the editors having to go through SaleThrough and do anything. So it would be pretty rare that they have to go in and do anything with SaleThrough which is nice because it doesn’t look like we’re tied to it. They could even preview themselves stuff from the CMS and then there’s some more advanced custom things that they can do. They can set the pre-header line. They can add editors’ notes stuff if it’s needed.
That should show up on the preview. Et cetera, et cetera. And, yeah, I think those are the pretty much the main functions that editors would use for it. We also have some functions that sales people could use. They could go into this ad generator and paste in stuff they need for their clients and it would spit out HTML for like. And… they can use — we’ve got an image models thing for them to use images. Taxonomies to — to link sites together, to add topics. They can add library items in the library section of our site. Job posts, as well. And they can do everything from scheduling ads to scheduling editors’ notes to go into issues. Previewing what the Weekenderish is going to be, making press releases, all primarily with basic Django, baked-in functionality. The stuff like the dashboard and the workflows, obviously, is custom logic but I would definitely recommend Django if you need to get something up fast and you need to be able to have that kind of minute control for it. But I think that’s all I got for you.
AUDIENCE: Did you use the Django templating?
Bo: Yes, yeah. The front-end is Django templating. And the newsletter is Salesthrough Sapphire.
TREI: Howdy, I’m Trei. I work for Vox Media and I’ve been there for a long time building our platform, which is called Chorus, which powers all of our own brands, but also, recently, we started opening it up to other publishers so that they can also use it. Thank you for having so many people in a room to look at CMSs. This is definitely my type of nerdy conference. So let’s dive in. So Chorus, first of all, is a platform that not only has, like, publishing tools but audience experience, video, analytics. We also handle — we have a platform called Concert, which is our premier ad network that we run. Ad products that we built ourselves and so we make all of those available to our publisher customers. We all all of those things ourselves. 100% of things I’m going to show you today of Chorus we use and it is the exact same platform that we offer to all of our customers, as well. So let’s dive in and make some content… in a management system.
[ Laughter ]
So this is Chorus. So this is, you know, we keep it super nice and clean. You can search this by really simple things like by: me. You can also search for things like status:draft. We keep all of that super simple and easy to find. You can create a new story. Come on new story. All right. So we are in Minneapolis. There is an outstanding newspaper here called the Star Tribune. And they cover a team called the Twins. Where is Aaron? The Twins are doing really well this year. They have a winning record and you should follow them and be excited because they’re going to win the World Series, and we all know that all being said, I jinxed it, so they’re going to lose it. So we’re going to — let’s make a story about the Twins. I’m going to back up and find another story.
Here we go. Twins versus the Indians. So one thing just to show real quickly is all of these fields like headlines and deck all have version history that you can pop up. You can see that it was previously untitled. Now it is not. Now we can go grab a suite deck from this story, as well. Baseball stories as my example is basically my ipsum. Baseball ipsum is basically the thing that I love. So we can set the headline, the deck. We can change the permalink to be whatever you want, and you can then go back and override those. You can go and search for images. So I’m going to find an Indians and Twins image. We are integrated with Getty, and a bunch of different ones. There’s an exciting one where the Indians are dejected so I’m going to involve the Twins around the faces. Very perfect for lining this up. So we pull all the data from Getty. If you pull this, we can pull the xif data and pull all that. So I zoomed past the cropping part of that. But you can select the focus point and it auto-crops across all of those things. Super easy to use. You can also add other author bylines, you can edit Star Tribune staff here. We can add other folks. We can see that Katrina is in the story so we can add her. And those are the basics. Super easy, super fast. Up here, you can see, there’s me and there’s Katrina. The story behind our editor, just like many other folks is our editors would write in different things and cut and paste into our platform. So our goal was for them not to do that anymore so they can take advantage of all the other integrations that he have a lot more easily. So now we’ve achieved that but we’ve done that in a really cool way. And kept the legacy editor up and running, and until we had everybody migrated over to the new editor, we had the legacy one running. We have them all running. And now we have folks not using Google Docs anymore and we’re proud of the fact that they love our story editor. Robert Klein wrote a copy of his most recent book in Chorus which is super cool. They love writing in this tool which is cool. We wanted people to love the CMS — love, all love. So I’m going to grab this story about baseball: the best sport. One thing I’ll show y’all real quick is you can also kind of like that magic wand thing, we pre-populate into search and social. It’ll override these things. The Star Tribune wrote exactly the right link for search, hopefully not by mistake, we’ll see. We’ll do that. We’ll make it shorter. You can also override each of the images for search and social and for the home page.
I believe on the home page, they did something that just said, like, Twins versus Indians: the Showdown or something like that. So it’ll be something crazy like that. And here I can paste in the story. You can see that. So back to my story about getting people to move over from Google Docs. The obvious for people, what we needed to do was multiple users. So you can have multiple users in the story editor at the same time. Myself and Katrina are in here right now. The other is that you would have a version history that you could go back and take a look at and do a comparison on. Being able to to just revert to those things, both of those were kind of the key features that we needed to move people over.
You can also grab something and you can basically turn it into a comment. This means that it won’t publish out to the world. So you can add editors’ notes. Karina is adding something as we are going here. Katrina is in New York City currently and I asked her to join in. And so she is adding some stuff. So she can be in here adding these things and we could be working at the same time. I’m going to show y’all a couple other really fun things. So maybe she’ll telling me to add this tweet. So how about this? I’ll grab this tweet right here… and how about this… we’ll insert that tweet as an embed. Boop, boop. It shows me what it’s going to be and I can insert it. There we go.
Now we have a sweet tweet inside here. The other thing that’s pretty cool… one of my favorite tools that we have is this insert-table thing. So I thought maybe we could use some fan graphs data. So I grabbed it and I put it — some data — into this sweet Google spreadsheet. So let me grab that. Go back here. Put that in here. I can hit enter. Magic things happen across the Internet. There’s a table. I can be changing that table over in Google Docs and it’s gonna update that over here. I can call it swing percentage but that is the data that it is displaying.
And then I’ll insert that. So now there’s this table. It’s showing me kind of a mobile-condensed version of it. I can also preview that back on the table there, as well. There’s all the, like, obvious, like, styling things that you would expect to see that, you know, you can do in here with bolding things and all of that. It’s all rich text. One of the favorite features of our editorial teams is that you can go full screen and just not have any text boxes that you feel like you are stressed out by having to fill out. So we have all of those in here. So I’m going to go ahead and bounce. We could — I’ll show you some — there’s a bunch of other things that you can insert in here, but I’ll show you some of the other cool features. It said 12 minutes. So this takes you into preview.
I’ll switch over… by default, we display AMP because so much of our traffic is coming in via AMP these days. So this is what our story looks like on AMP. And this is what it looks like on mobile and I can switch to desktop. And then I can switch into layout mode — and the law of live demos is that there’ll always be one little error.
And then you can switch into different layouts here. And then you could, if you wanted to, you could pop in and also add some custom CSS. Not recommended because of — for compatibility — but if we wanted to do that, why not. Let’s break things. I’ll just pop open our SASS editor. I know our engineers in the room are grimacing. Look at that! I know! I used CSS! So I made the text really big. So that’s what I did. And you can go in here and say, I want to work with this. So I’m going to add a drop cap and I want to make the text large. So that’s cool. You can also do a bunch of other, like, layout tools with that.
Like, grouping images and things like that. I’m going to just keep going so I can show y’all all the cool features. By the way, this story has this really crazy quote in it that I forgot I was going to make a blockquote that I’m just going to have to read out to y’all. It’s this crazy Lindor quote about how balls are round but they go into square boxes. I’m sorry for my life that I can’t find it. So you can see one of the things we do is we actually show you, hey, if I hadn’t have changed the permalink or the editorial we would have given you a warning. We’re telling you that if you use some custom styles which may break in the future, proceed with caution. There’s some workflow capabilities submitted for approval, or I can just publish it now. I can switch things to embargo mode. I can ensure, control where it’s distributed. I’m just going to go ahead and publish it.
And then, confirmed. I want to publish it now. So I’ll show y’all… what happens from here is that in Layout, I’ll reload this… so now I have the story here that I can put into layout and so I just can drag and drop that here, and I can push those changes live. The pink things are ones that are pinned into layout. The white ones will just flow through as things are published to the home page so you have kind of like a combination of river and pinned things. I can change the different — I can change the layout of my home page from here. So this is what the home page looks like right now. So I just put that story here into the second position. One of the things that I have turned on here is our multiarmed bandit headline and photo and deck testing capability that we call Optimize that allows you to add different headline variations and see which one’s when. There’s a fast algorithm for that. Let’s see how much time I have left? Zero! I’m done!
MARILYN: The vortex! Live demos, right? Okay. Hi, everyone, I’m Sharilyn Hufford and I work on the news platform teams the the New York Times. So I’m one of the many, many people ≈ who have worked on our CMS called Scoop over the years. It’s about a decade old now at this point, I think. It replaced KNews as our digital publishing system. Erika is laughing over in the back. Would everybody in the room who has worked on Scoop in the past, or works on Scoop in some capacity would you now just raise your hand and say hi to everyone. So these are the people who are the true experts on this. So I’m going to do my best to represent here and show off all of the good work that they do. So this is our main dashboard when you log in to Scoop. I’m set up now as a reporter. So this would be a reporter’s view when you log in. We’ve got some stories that you created, some things that have been assigned to you. You can budget some articles and some of your recent things.
So I’m just gonna start with creating a new article and editor that we called Oak. That’s been around for almost four years now and it’s not quite completely rolled out to the entire newsroom. But you’ll see that it looks pretty clean and straightforward and that’s really the idea: to be able to just sit down and start creating and not do a lot of data entry. Sort of like with some of the other things that you’ve seen so far. So this is what it looks like when I get ready to start. And I am not using any kind of ipsum. I’m just putting in some content here that Albert set up so thank you to Albert. We have a pretty large newsroom. You might know that.
And not everyone actually uses Scoop; we have a lot of people who do but we also have a lot of freelancers so this is the way that some stuff comes in. An editor will get it. It’s come from me now, but it’s a Google doc but it’s reality. But the people who do work in the CMS and who work in Oak really love it.
It’s been really well received in the newsroom and people have been just really, really happy with using it. I think it’s increased the creativity of what we produce. And it’s definitely helped make us more visual which was, I think, directly behind doing that. So pretty straightforward here. Just copy and paste and away you go. You can add blocks on different things. I can add an image. We’ll open up a little block and I can just search for — if I can spell, things that are already available to me in Scoop and will automatically insert, pull in the caption and credit from the data that’s available online on that image. If I want to write something else, I can. I’m not, like, getting fancy here so… I can do things like store this for later. We call it “stashing” something away. It’s kind of just like making something available and visible to an editor but not visible to anyone who’s external once this actually gets published.
So that’s kind of an awesome feature to have. I can add my comments. I can get my typing going here. I can stash that again if I want, and I can also add in a comment saying, hey, Will Davis, are you in the room? So comment there for what I want to happen. And Will is gonna jump in and show the collaborative editing features of this. So he can start adding things while I’m talking. Add some good stuff, Will!
You can also add other things like tweets. I had something here that I thought was really awesome. This very cool embroidery. I don’t know if the person who did that is here but very cool. And then, because the reality of what we do is that there is some kind of data entry and tagging and that sort of thing that has to happen, I can switch to a view that lets me see all that have, and I can actually change this to a meaningful slug for someone that it might make a little more sense to: an editor. I can go in here and change things for URLs, for SEO, header, summary. Add different kinds of headers and images and that sort of thing that I want to do. Different sections and types of things and tagging that will give me some options for — okay — newspapers, New York Times, cool. Where are we? In Minneapolis. Got it. So I can add those kinds of things there, too. And so, that’s sort of basically… I can do a preview that’s a WYSIWYG. This is more of a mobile kind of preview. It’s not exactly how it would appear but it’s a pretty good representation of how this will look on the screen. I can also do a desktop preview. Hoping this stuff works because I totally broke it before I came in here. So, so far so good. So this is our desktop preview. And one thing that we do a lot of is something called playback. This really is for — it gets used for a lot of different things but you can send this to an email address. You can send it as a Word development. Just as something that’s kind of in the body of an email. You can add a message as a default and it sends a link for people who do have access to log in to the CMS, a link to do that. This is great for people who are out in the field. Maybe who aren’t available on Wi-Fi or really in a situation where they can actually get logged in to the CMS. So it’s a good way for them to have a copy of the article as it’s being edited. And it’s also used a lot for editors who work with freelancers who aren’t given access to CMS. So a lot of things go back and forth through that playback workflow. It has history. It’s showing you who’s been making changes. When you click on those various ones, you can see what has changed. And that’s pretty much the highlights of Scoop.
AUDIENCE: Workflow status and track changes.
Workflow status and track changes. That’s something that everybody wants. You can change workflow status, we have pretty straightforward. System right now, this is kind of a holdover from our print production and I think that this is something that we will be working to modify and change going forward but as you know when you’re working on a CMS, there’s something new possibly being done, there technical debt and so for now, this is what it is. Let me make myself a second editor. Sorry. And make the art complete. Sorry. Sorry.
Okay. So I’ve just updated a lot of things in there. Show changes on if I go in and I start editing some things. Will’s got some stuff in there, too, — if I add something — Will’s adding something to it if you will. And you could see that track changes are in here. You know, there are lots of options for CMSs and one thing that our newsroom demands every time we try to do something new and improved, the CMS, and build new things every time we want to do an editor, the demand is always, it has to have tracked changes and it proves every time to be one of the most challenging technical things to build and it just, like, requires so much effort but this is really, really nice and hasn’t actually been rolled out for that long, I think, and it’s really just one of the things that editors and reporters are really loving. It’s great that the people in the newsroom really love using Oak. So that makes it a huge win.
So I’m probably running long on time so I’m just going to try to show you a couple of other things. Story dashboard is our new dashboard that I showed when I first logged in. It was kind of very — one of the early interfaces for Scoop and this is our more modern and updated interface for finding stories, being able to see, at a glance, what’s happening with things. If I want to refine things that are only assigned to me, I can start typing my name I put in the field. Sorry. And then it will show me only the things in this that are assigned to me. So that makes it helpful for people who really want to narrow things down, and really focus their work on what they’re doing. You can filter lots of different ways, but I don’t want to get too deep into that. Let’s see. I need to publish this thing if I want to actually put it out on the home page. Oh, sorry. There are a couple of things that I have to do to make it web and copy ready.
Again, that’s kind of the two-piece system when we have an immigration with a print system and a totally different workflow in the newsroom and because we haven’t converted everybody into Oak fully yet, we haven’t really unraveled all of that. So it will come at some point and I hit publish. And it failed! Why’s it failed! We’ll move on. Home page really quickly. Trust me, it works when it really has to. So this is just a view for building out the home page, what’s going out in the top stories. I can drag and drop… maybe. I can delete. Save it. It can give me some validation warning. We have lots of things like this all throughout the system. For lots of different reasons. So that’s one thing that I think is nice about having a mature system is we already have a lot built in to it already. Sorry. Here’s if this will work. Nope, okay. Well, there you go. I think I’m going to end it there.
[ Laughter ]
[ Applause ]
ALBERT: Okay. Thank you to everyone who presented. That was really awesome. We have five minutes for questions if people have questions for anyone who presented, I will run around the mic.
AUDIENCE: Can everyone just describe their tech stacks? I’m not sure everybody heard that. Could all the presenters quickly describe your tech stacks? So Python, Node, Java, whatever?
TREI: I’m the wrong person to answer this question. Take it over, Noz!
SAM: I think two people are sitting next to each other.
NOZLEE: We’ve got a Node app and a series of microservices. Oh, you don’t know that I work at Chorus!
TIM: I work on Copilot CMS. It’s and ember front-end, it’s a Node.js service and it’s a distributed set of individual services per brand that are deployed individually that are connected through a centralized API.
SHARILYN: I was gonna say, hand it to Joe.
ALBERT: Do you guys have any?
ANAÏS: So ours is built on a variety. We’re moving from Angular to React on the front-end and Clojure to Python, and it really does depend on the team but I can’t say exclusively but I did just Slacked an engineer to, like, ask.
AUDIENCE: So this is first for the — when Poet was a standalone project one of the neat things was let people edit at once. Is that still thing that something you can do. And for the other folks. For multiple people editing the story, yes, no, later? Yes, no, or later, being like, we’re working on it but it doesn’t do it now.
ALBERT: I think we saw for Scoop and Chorus, yes.
TIM: Collaboratively editing for Chorus?
ANAÏS: Postgres, Mongo, Node.js, Python, Django.
ANAÏS: So, like, everything.
ALBERT: And the other question is about collaborative editing.
ANAÏS: So collaborative editing. So currently, we have a logging feature because that’s kind of where our clients are. One person at a time. But I think we’re kind of considering making that configurable and so we’re looking at different use cases around editing at the same time, and doing some usability testing there to kind of decide how to best handle that, and then from there, we’ll make it configurable by organization.
BO: And so we log ours to one person at a time. People want to track but the priority of that is currently unknown to me.
AARON: I’m wondering how many people are on the teams that built all of this.
ANAÏS: Uh… so the other day, I heard 500 engineers but I’m not sure that’s true. I don’t know for sure. But the average — the average team size is, like, five to six people. And then, like, the team handles the product. So they, like, handle their backend database and their microservices and each product within Arc has, like, six engineers on it.
SAM: We have a mission system. So an editorial tools mission are five engineering teams. I think each, an EM, and four devs, and a PM, and historically one of those has been for the Copilot UI. You saw that one owns Kata APIs, and the other three, the other products we demoed today, but the Syndication product, and the video product and the…
SHARILYN: I’m deferring this to Maddy.
BO: At Industry Dive for the better part of building the CMS, it was a smaller team for four to seven. We certainly got to two starter teams of five to six people.
AUDIENCE: On the CMS side at the Times, we have about five teams, 30 people in total, but a larger area of focus is on Oak. And other one folks on the workflow tools, that works on the dashboard stuff but also the tools that aims to puts the stories on the home page front and other works on emails and the other one works on centralized quality CMS acceleration which is a CMS core team and all the products that fall within there that are defined as one team or another at go time.
ALBERT: Was there a question in the back that I saw before?
AUDIENCE: How do all of your different systems work with and I guess make space for newsroom developers who are doing not-standard stories. Things that are not kind of, like, the things that —
[ Laughter ]
ALBERT: Coming over to this side again.
SAM: Me? Non-standard stories?
ANAÏS: Oh, yeah, so I’m building a product right now called Home. So instead of disaggregating activity across the home page we’re creating a configurable dashboard that basically lets you create your own workflow tan individual level so I think that would probably be how we’re going to address that by basically creating a marketplace of tools where third-party tools can be implemented there and you can download them onto your dashboard. And then, our first proof of concept of that is we are trying to get ChartBeat data through basically connect analytics to in-the-moment actions like adding to a collection on the home page and pitching it. So I think we’ll continue to aggregate data across our third-party tools and add it to the system to see what might make happy or encourage our users.
SAM: We have it interactive in our — which lets people — I didn’t show it, but we also did a lot of branding content for that so that’s where that’s, to me, that stuff most often.
SHARILYN: All those who know about interactive news or graphics. Because you’re the people that have to do this. One of the promises of Oak is that it’s going to be easier to do that and hopefully that’s coming sooner or later but, you know, it’s always a challenge and I don’t know if one of you want to talk about that.
TREI: You should talk to Keaty and Nozlee but we have something called Custom Storytelling Kit which allows to you tell your story all in Chorus and version history and there’s an API that you can access via CLI and basically build out a little scaffold of an app and build out those things there so those things can talk to each other. Is that right? Yeah, I used to know how to write code…
AUDIENCE: Around, above, through, and beside. There’s a fields throughout different asset types all throughout Scoop that has escape hashes that you can put markup API points to get all that in there. It depends on what kinds of story or content types and page types.
ALBERT: Thanks I should have made you all sit…
BO: We have a graphics department and design team that’s separate from the software team that handles all the graphics and front-end stuff that editors request and then in our editor, something we didn’t show is you can flip over to the raw HTML of the WYSIWYG and our front-end designers will help input whatever HTML they’re coding into it and you can look at it and they’ve collaborated very well that way so far is an advantage of having a little bit of a smaller company right now.
ALBERT: I think we’re out of time but thank you all for coming and I hope…
[ Applause ]