Guest author Günter Bächle is in charge of the local news desk at the Ludwigsburger Kreiszeitung. Twelve editors work for the desk.
The local news desk of the Ludwigsburger Kreiszeitung covers 38 communes with a total of 444.000 residents including five cities with between 25.000 and 40.000 residents.
That means plenty of local appointments that need to be covered every day. The days when that was done by means of diaries with editors' names scribbled in against events are history, but the search was on for the best replacement.
Trials with Word and Excel
A period of trial and error saw Outlook calendars being made accessible to the whole newsroom but the sheer number of appointments proved too much for Outlook to handle. For a while, there was an event schedule in Word with big, chart-like pages that were printed out for everyone.
That gave way to an experiment with Excel. Even then the appointments for photographers needed to be done separately – usually by means of good old-fashioned notes on a writing pad. While the assignment of appointments with newsroom staff could be sorted and noted quickly in the daily meeting, the telephone assignments for freelancers took a lot of time.
In 2008 Desk-Net was introduced
The news desk needed time-saving alternatives so when a colleague came back from a convention in 2008 with information about a tool called Desk-Net the interest was immediate. We had one of their employees show us the system.
As first only the local desk decided to start working with Desk-Net. Some colleagues couldn't get excited about a web-based tool not least because of its long load times (since improved). The fact that the Desk Manager dubbed it an “excellent system” helped convince even the skeptics and we became Desk-Net pioneers.
Desk-Net is continuously improving
We love the fact that you can send whole invitations (including attachments) to a Desk-Net configured mail address and then simply add it to the calendar. Employees can receive all the attachments they need automatically this way, with no need for follow up emails or faxes.
Every member of the desk can tailor the dashboard/start page of their account as they choose. Personally, I opt for the Short-term Calendar with a 7-day view. Notes – that come with stories for example – can be seen by everyone on the desk. It can be seen at a glance who has a day off, or who is sick and for how long. Organization and communications are simplified at a stroke for the news desk.
Besides the Short- and Long-term Calendar you can also use the Short- and Long-term Planning plus a page with story ideas. Appointments can be further categorized into sub-groups.
I have to admit that we don't use all the features on offer but we have tailored all the pages we do use to our individual needs. The system is variable, versatile and can be customized. That´s why we are Desk-Net cheerleaders.
Especially as new and useful updates are constantly coming through and the developers put a clear focus on implementing suggestions that come out of everyday newsroom life. Oh, and since you asked if something is not immediately working out the mail support is fast as lightning.