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How to create, move, and publish content in Superdesk

Managing content in Superdesk
Managing content in Superdesk

If you’re a journalist and have ever worked in your news organisation’s CMS, chances are you use the newsroom software to file your stories – and maybe little else. But whether you write your pieces directly in the CMS or copy and paste them when sending to your editor, you need to know how to create a new content item from scratch. In this post we’ll show you how to do it in Superdesk, our headless CMS made for digital newsrooms.

There are two ways you can create content items in Superdesk. The first way is through “Ingest” – pulling a piece of existing content from external sources such as an RSS feed, an API, an email or a variety of other routes into the workflow. Check out this blog post to learn more about the ingesting process. 

In this post we’re going to learn about the second way – creating a new piece of content from within Superdesk itself. 

There are two options for launching a new content window. From some areas within Superdesk – including your ‘Personal’ space – you can click the blue “+” icon in the top right-hand corner of the page. You can also always use the “Create New” button in the bottom right-hand corner, which is visible in nearly every workspace screen. Using one of these two options will launch a new content template.

Creating a new piece of content in Superdesk.
Creating a new piece of content in Superdesk.(Photo: Gregory Bruno)Copyrights Sourcefabic

Like everything else in Superdesk, these content templates can be customised to your organisation’s workflow. Maybe you have a lot of “Breaking News” and need a template for that, or perhaps you need one for your weekly column. At Sourcefabric, we have a template called “News,” which is what we use for the Superdesk blog.

Superdesk Metadata fields.
Superdesk Metadata fields.(Photo: Gregory Bruno)Copyrights Sourcefabic

Once you select a template, you’ll see a new content window in the “Superdesk Editor.” At the top are your metadata fields – the tags, or pieces of information attached to a story or image that helps Superdesk organise your content, and helps readers find it. Again, every one of these fields is customisable. 

After completing the metadata, you’ll need to add a “Headline,” any featured media – like photos or a video – an “Abstract” (also known as a short summary), and body text. These fields can also be customised with a character limit. For instance, maybe your website was optimised for headlines shorter than 70 characters; you can create a rule in the Superdesk editor so anything longer will be rejected. Here’s a short video with more details about using the Superdesk Editor tool.

One feature that editors as well as auditors will find useful is called versioning. If you’re writing or editing an article over multiple sessions, every time you save your article, Superdesk retains a copy. In addition to user-initiated saves, Superdesk also performs an autosave after you stop typing for three seconds. Versioning is useful in both news and non-news settings – wherever document control and information governance is part of the editorial process.

You can access previous versions of your content via the “Versions/History” tab. By clicking “Revert” you can continue writing from a previous version, while still preserving older ones. The “Item History” tab lets you see who created the item, when it was last updated, and by whom.

Superdesk’s “Versions/History” tab.
Superdesk’s “Versions/History” tab.(Photo: Gregory Bruno)Copyrights Sourcefabic

Now, save and close your new piece of content to see what happens. As soon as you close the item, it will appear at the top of the “Working Stage” section of the “News Desk” in the monitoring window. 

Let’s say you’re happy with the piece and ready to ship it off for editing. You can either do that from within the piece of content, or by ticking the “Send To/Publish” icon (the purple box with an arrow in the top-right corner of the content window, immediately below your avatar). Click on the destination – the next step in your workflow – and hit send. The piece now reappears in the “For Approval” stage. You can also configure Superdesk to automatically send email notifications when a piece of content is ready for editing.

If you were the editor on this piece, after making all your changes, you would click “Save,” and then hit the “Send to/Publish” button. You can either send the content back to another stage or, if you have publishing rights, you can publish it. From this window you can manage numerous publishing options – such as delivery to single or multiple websites and sending to “Target Subscribers” or “Regions.” Superdesk can even be configured to publish directly to social media.

The Superdesk Sent to/Publish window.
The Superdesk Sent to/Publish window.(Photo: Gregory Bruno)Copyrights Sourcefabic

After setting the ‘Web Publishing’ source and clicking the ‘Publish’ button, your content will be routed and published to the desired site or sites. 

Our newly published content online.
Our newly published content online.(Photo: Gregory Bruno)Copyrights Sourcefabic

This is just an overview of how content is created and moved within a Superdesk workflow. What makes Superdesk such a great piece of open-source software is how customisable, and scalable, the solution is.

Need more help? Try the Superdesk manual, or send us a note at [email protected]


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