Which web services to use for online newsrooms?
I’m fishing around for a combination of web services that could meed my newsroom’s needs for an online editorial process, file-sharing, and a space for communication and collaboration.
For the editorial process, we’re currently using Google Docs, though the lack of track changes is really a pain. Also, it’s hard to tell what state the process is in and to interface with writers (this overlaps with comm/collab space.) It would be great for coordination purposes if everybody could know what the steps of the process are, who’s responsible for each one, and which step the process is currently on.
We’ve been using drop.io for file-sharing but it’s buggy and I’m sick of it. Looking at dropbox and box.net. So far, we’ve been using file-sharing to move photos around, but this role will probably expand.)
I’ve been looking at basecamp, zoho projects, and manymoons for project management. The last two integrate with google apps, which is nice. Also looking at huddle and staction. It looks like box.net also has some of these features. We’ve been using a mixture of email and IMs to communicate. (Not enough IMs. And, of course, phone calls and face to face interaction)
What do services do you guys use? Which your newsroom used? Will meet our needs to edit, swap files, communicate, collaborate, and track projects online?
ADDENDUM: Just thought of another need. We’ve been working with a flash developer on an interactive graphic but he hasn’t been able to come in. Talking on the phone about design, with only a visual reference part of the time, is a huge pain. Is there some way we could both see, and doodle on, the same mockups/flash demos?
Unfortunately there's no good versioning system for Flash. I work on Flash projects with another teammate, and we alternate editing the files. When we make important code and/or design changes, we save the files with new numbers appended to the end of them. We don't do likewise with our custom classes, since it would be annoying to change the imports, so we're just super careful to make sure we're not editing classes simultaneously. Not the most ideal system, but I think it's the best we can do. Since your flash guy presumably isn't on your network, I would suggest using a similar method and saving the files to Dropbox.
I'd also add a newsreader into the mix. I currently use a mix of NetNewsWire and Feedly. Feedly is a Firefox and Chrome-based reader that sits on top of Google Reader. (Google Reader is the glue that ties together NetNewsWire, Feedly and some things that I do with Publish2.) Feedly is very useful both in terms of how it's tied into web services and social networks, and it uses Thomson-Reuters' Calais to do some very interesting semantic analysis to help make more sense of my thicket of feeds.
I installed Living Stories on a test Wordpress instance and have been checking it out.
The backend dashboard for adding content is incredibly complex, not sure how well it would integrate into the workflow of a news organization. Also it was a little buggy, kept getting this error: "The Google Maps API server rejected your request. The "client" parameter specified in the request is invalid."
I'd throw a newsreader in the mix too, maybe Netvibes because public pages are viewable by everyone. Good way to monitor certain sources or topics.
Bookmarking services like Delicious or Publish2 come in handy as well, especially if you run some of the public feeds into afore-mentioned Netvibes page.
Our newsroom pretty much runs on Google Docs, GChat and a local network for file sharing.
Google Docs tracks changes by default, but doesn't do it quite like MS Word (not a bad thing, in my opinion). Go to File > See revision history. That will give you a list of versions, and you can compare any combination of revisions.
Dropbox is another good option, especially if it frees more people to get out of the newsroom. This question has more options.
For mockups, we (or rather, our designers) mostly email PSDs back and forth.
Any kind of remote access software (gotomyPC, logmein, etc.) should allow you to share control of a computer so you can takes turns pointing at stuff with the mouse, doodle, etc.
This seems to me more about semantic metadata and structured data in news than it is about KMS, unless you're thinking of the internet as a KMS.
In terms of structured data in news, there is NewsML from IPTC. This basically just marks up different elements of a news story. The hNews microformat was launched last year, but I haven't heard a lot about take up, apart from the Associated Press using it to some extent. (The AP botched the launch of hNews by mingling that launch with the launch of its News Registry, copyright monitoring service.)
It seems to me that structuring information and data in stories is the first, very low-level step before you get to the higher level things that you're looking to do. Calais is useful for a lot of this because it does a good first pass and does markup of a lot of places, organisations and people in your stories. There are a lot of workflow questions involved with this as well (as a journalist who spent a lot of time last year trying to structure data in a batch of stories that we did).
I have to say that standard FTP always works for video sharing for me. We do a lot of video sharing (around 3-5 Gigs up a week) and the dedicated server we run is much more cost effective. I know it's a bit more complicated than Drop.io or Google Docs but it always works. If you have an FTP client you can connect.
Plus, if you already pay for web space it's easy to upgrade.
As far as Docs go I am a big fan of Zoho. They also have online meeting software which may or may not meet your addendum.
We're trying an experiment with this here in the Bay Area -- a storytelling/hack day for iPad media applications in cooperation with KQED. You can see more info at http://unite.hackshackers.com
If anyone wants to come out, please consider yourselves more than welcome! We're trying to combine the typical J-school exercise of going out and finding a story on the spur of the moment with a conventional hackathon. The idea is to get journalists and developers collaborating more directly from the inception of a story. And that way, the journalists also hopefully won't be left standing around while coders code, but going out to gather content for their news applications.
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