With the largest network of German-speaking correspondents in the world, spread across enough time zones to provide 24 hour reporting, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) knows a thing or two about the issues of scheduling and coordinating content production.
So Desk-Net is obviously delighted that not only does NZZ single out Desk-Net as one of its 'best of breed' tool set, but that the man in charge of planning has the motto that “if it's not in Desk-Net, it doesn't happen”.
But for a software platform known for its editorial calendaring there is an eyebrow-raising twist to NZZ's selection of Desk-Net as part of the 'best of breed' stable; which is that NZZ doesn't (yet) use the calendering features. Instead Project Manager André Maerz, who has rolled the editorial management tool out to over 300 users, stresses Desk-Net's potential for cross-channel planning, asset ordering, and above all for being able to answer the crucial question of who is in charge of what at any time.
To highlight why those are key to NZZ's digital and print operations Maerz gave us a few statistics at this year's Editorial Days about how users are consuming their content.
NZZ's Facebook fans number nearly 110,000, with 200,000 contacts per day and a growth rate of three per cent per month. The Twitter feed has 238,000 followers, and results in 35,000 links to the NZZ web site per month. Add to that the job of staying on top of news flow to Blendle, print, digital TV, and radio is a huge task and one that Maerz trusts to Desk-Net.
He also acknowledges the editorial software's role in paring meetings to the bone. As he explains; “in the morning there is a short briefing of about ten minutes for the paper and then for online. Then in the afternoon there is another short briefing about the paper, and again at 5pm there is a brief meeting about the plan for online content through the night so that the overseas staff can be briefed.”
Much of the rest of the usual back-and-forth of which content requires videos or infographics is handled online. For example users click an icon to request video or interactive content to accompany a story. The production teams have a filter which means with they can see everything that is ordering enriched content. “They are like commissions, and we say OK but we can see four orders and we can only do two so we then decide with the authors what we will do.”
The status of orders is then displayed in Desk-Net by a simple colour scheme. If the production staff enter their name in black for an item then that means they are preparing it. If the name is in red then it means it can't be done yet. If the name is in green it means the work is finished. The end result is a traffic-light system that shows progress and asset management at a glance.
Real-time asset management is one of the stand-out strategic strengths at NZZ where Maerz has also implemented a penalty per minute system for pages delivered late to the printer.
To keep an eye on that he has also created a 'departures board' for delivery which shows what is on time, what is delayed, and what has been cancelled. “It's on a big screen in the newsroom and if it starts to turn red then it means it's time to do something... but it also means that retrospectively you can see what was delivered on time, and where there were delays. It is part of the editor-in-chief's job to scrutinize that and see how to improve.”
For NZZ instant visibility and real-time asset control is essential to a managing a responsive, multi-channel publishing business and Desk-Net is delighted to be one of the key tools that make it happen.
This case study is a summary of Andie Maerz´s presentation "Modular systems at Neue Zürcher Zeitung". The presentation was first held at Desk-Net Editorial Days on June 9th 2016 in Hamburg, Germany.