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Real-Time Planning: How Sourcefabric Helped STT Open its Newsroom to the World


Around the world, news organisations are facing an unprecedented crisis as audiences turn to digital platforms and social media for their content needs. To help journalists keep pace with this trend and remain relevant, the European Commission has several initiatives aimed at strengthening media innovation.

One of these initiatives is the Stars4Media programme, which aims to foster collaboration among media professionals and accelerate cross-border partnerships. Co-financed by the European Union, Stars4Media offers funding, coaching, and peer-to-peer knowledge transfer to enable newsroom transformation.

Sourcefabric, in partnership with the Finnish news agency, STT, was chosen by Stars4Media to cooperate on innovative initiatives, focusing on editorial and technological advancements.

The Challenge

In 2022, STT conducted a customer satisfaction survey, which revealed a clear need for real-time planning of STT's news coverage. News publishers – the news agency’s clients – needed a better idea of what content STT was planning throughout the day and beyond. While STT had made advancements in news planning visibility, gaps remained.

Acknowledging this, STT called on Sourcefabric to help enhance its client web portal and make its content plans more accessible to clients.

The initiative aligned with the objectives of the Stars4Media programme and was selected for the initial EXPLORE phase and eventually for the second phase (BOOST). The project received funding and coaching from Stars4Media for both stages.

Maija Paikkala, STT’s innovation developer, said STT needed to “open a window to our news agency” for customers. The implementation of a new web portal would help users of STT content gain more visibility in real time into the items covered by STT’s journalists.

"We were facing a challenge to be able to change people’s behaviour,” said Gideon Lehmann, a project manager at Sourcefabric and lead for the STT project. “People don’t like change. We are trying to make this barrier smaller. We are very flexible with our software, Superdesk, to adjust the workflows to the needs of people."

The Solution

During the initial phase of the project, regular meetings involving STT, Sourcefabric, and the Stars4Media coach facilitated discussions among newsroom personnel. The conversations were instrumental in laying the groundwork for the specific changes in workflow that the project sought to implement.

The second stage of the project was focused on piloting the new workflows. Stars4Media facilitated a collaborative workshop in Prague in February involving Sourcefabric, STT, and an external consultant, enabling them to understand STT's workflows and Sourcefabric's system.

“Bringing Sourcefabric and STT’s teams together was fascinating,” said Pierre Baisle, an innovation strategist and coach, and founder of In-novatio. “Both organisations have embraced new methodologies to achieve a well detailed challenge scoping exercise, and this has enabled them to co-design the upcoming features STT needs.”

During the workshop, STT's planning editors highlighted a crucial aspect of their workflow: they always initiate with what they call a "topic," equivalent to Superdesk's "planning item." This is shared with their customers preliminarily, containing key metadata such as the article headline and category. Unlike other Superdesk users, STT uses planning items extensively, often publishing a series of articles based on a single planning item, which has to have visibility across all editors. Superdesk lacked this feature, which started conversations on how to adapt the system to better suit STT's workflow and facilitate their adoption of it.

Through discussions on existing workflows and system capabilities, the workshop aimed to address these challenges and enhance the collaboration between STT and Sourcefabric.

The output was a mock-up, developed to address the identified issues and improve software integration. It showed that everyone who works on an article that is associated with a certain topic or planning item would see what the others are working on related to the topic.

“Clients can plan their resources accordingly and be ready to use the news agency content when it arrives instead of sitting and waiting for it”

Maija Paikkala
Maija Paikkala STT, key account manager and innovation developer


Both Sourcefabric and STT have improved their adaptation processes to understand each other’s needs between news and tech. “It was an important takeaway to understand the needs of news organisations in regards to being transparent to their customers,” said Lehmann.

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The result of the project will not only benefit STT and the entire Finnish news media but also revolutionise the media news planning ecosystem, considering that Finnish news outlets greatly depend on the planning information provided by STT.

STT new planning

Moreover, once the technology is released, other users of Superdesk will benefit from the open-source enhancements. In May, Sourcefabric and STT attended WAN-IFRA’s World News Media Congress in Copenhagen, where their successful collaboration received a Stars4Media award.

“We managed to effectively translate concepts and ideas into an actual working product that will soon be embedded in its working environment: STT’s newsroom,” said Baisle.

World News Media Congress

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