It’s a dilemma faced by many corporate newsrooms: buy prepackaged newsroom software or develop a CMS in-house? Neither was a good option for NTB, the national news agency of Norway. As a small news agency, NTB did not have the leverage to dictate terms to a commercial software provider. At the same time, it also did not want to sink time and money into commissioning an in-house system that might be obsolete by the time it was delivered. NTB was looking for a third way. The goal was to find purpose-built newsroom software that would multiply the effect of existing resources and effort rather than consume them.
Superdesk had many of the features NTB was looking for, including workflow management and tools for collaboration. But Sourcefabric’s agile development process and the open source code base also represented a chance for NTB to become a development partner, and join the Superdesk community of news innovators.
The process began with a technical team from Sourcefabric spending several days at NTB’s Oslo newsroom, having formal conversations as well as observing journalists in the newsroom. Once they identified the main features of NTB’s Superdesk implementation, they started creating them.
“It wasn’t just Superdesk’s functionality that won us over, but also the benefits that come from being a part of a community of news agencies participating in an open source project. We can all share in ideas and new features that will help us become more competitive.”Helen Vogt Head of Innovations, NTB
At every stage of the project, input from NTB was key. Concepts developed into functions were modified or refined in response to editors’ feedback. In some cases, features were removed or a working item was revised completely over the course of the project. The roadmap was always oriented toward NTB’s needs.
After 11 months of these two-week agile development sprints, NTB began rolling out Superdesk. The first desks went live in December 2016. The rest of the editorial production system was migrated to Superdesk by early 2017.
Even as the efficiency and productivity gains enabled by Superdesk were still emerging, NTB had already benefited from joining a community of open source collaboration. The discussions about user experience, editorial workflows, and even future products that took place between NTB and Sourcefabric throughout the development process resulted in numerous new features and improvements. These not only work for NTB but also benefit the rest of the Superdesk user community. “We look forward to continuing this relationship of collaboration – with Sourcefabric and with the other newsrooms who are using Superdesk,” said Helen Vogt, NTB’s head of innovations.
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NTB (Norsk Telegrambyrå), the Norwegian News Agency, is the country’s leading news and picture agency, serving the Norwegian media industry since 1867. NTB delivers a wide variety of content services – in text, data, pictures, graphics, video and live streaming.