When The Canadian Press (CP) began looking for new digital newsroom software to replace its tangled web of legacy production tools, two requirements were clear from the start: the new engine of newsroom production needed to be highly efficient while also accommodating the national news agency’s two-language workflow.
CP’s old content management system (CMS), called JIMI, didn’t work well outside of the physical newsroom, and journalists operating remotely needed a VPN to access the system – an extra hurdle that made tasks slow and frustrating, especially during Covid-19 lockdowns. JIMI also operated on Windows 7, which was difficult to support, while in-house knowledge of the systems had grown scant as staff retired or moved on. As Gideon Lehmann, the Superdesk project manager, recalls, “It was the perfect timing to start with a cloud-based and future-proof system. Everyone involved was eager to get a new system in place."
Then, the pandemic hit, and JIMI’s number was up.
The Canadian Press was drawn to Superdesk for its robust workflows, scalability, ease of integration with other systems, and its open-source ethos. As Lehmann notes, the move to Superdesk has set CP up for a complete consolidation of legacy tools. As part of the migration, Superdesk was made completely multilingual for English and French, the two official languages of Canada. Additionally, the Planning Component, used by Superdesk newsrooms to plan their editorial coverage, was updated with new automation features specific to CP’s workflow.
“Superdesk helped us bring all of our valuable content assets together, creating a richer experience for our clients and unlocking a new world of packaging potential.”Andrea Baillie Editor-in-Chief, The Canadian Press
Most impressive, the migration from JIMI to Superdesk was done entirely remotely, as the implementation coincided with the early weeks of the pandemic.
While the first phase of the project was about replacing JIMI with Superdesk for planning and editorial tasks, CP plans to replace its other systems – like one for publishing and another for distributing news content to clients – in favour of Superdesk, which can handle these and more.
But the biggest factor for selecting the Superdesk suite of software was its track record – both in Canada and beyond. Editors had seen Superdesk in action at some of their peers, including the Australian Associated Press. Superdesk was also already powering CP’s Local Journalism Initiative, where the reviews were positive. These two factors meant that migrating the entire CP operation to Superdesk made sense.
After years of operating with six separate newsroom systems, today, CP has moved a step closer to maximum operational efficiency. Andrea Baillie, CP Editor-in-Chief, says the migration helped the news agency “bring all of our valuable content assets together, creating a richer experience for our clients and unlocking a new world of packaging potential.”
Superdesk has also given CP the ability to expand its digital product offerings. For instance, CP’s Digital Data Desk, which uses algorithms to create stories, graphics, and SaaS-based products, is using Superdesk to grow revenue and create bespoke content. CP’s management is also using the Superdesk Analytics Component, an out-of-the-box feature that provides granular detail on key production metrics – such as corrections and time spent on a story.
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Every year, CP publishes more than 350,000 articles, 230,000 photos and graphics, and 110,000 video and audio clips. When the software migration is complete, every piece of content the news agency plans, ingests, edits, publishes, and archives will be managed through Superdesk.
With some 180 journalists and editors nationwide, CP provides news articles, photos, graphics, and video and audio content to more than 600 media companies, including the Globe and Mail, CBC, Bell Media, Yahoo, and Factiva.