”One of the challenges we always wrestled with during our digital transformation was how to optimize the flow of articles. Dashboard has given us, for the first time, an automated planning tool for the entire news week. It’s a massive step forward,” says Marcus Ekdahl, managing editor at HD-Sydsvenskan.
Being a truly digital publication is about much more than just publishing online. You also have to think about readers’ habits in an entirely different way compared to the print newspaper. HD-Sydsvenskan has put a lot of effort into optimizing its news flow by mapping which types of articles work best at different times of day. For instance, many readers want to get a short, quick news roundup on their mobile phone in the morning, while longer interviews and investigative pieces get a better response during evenings and weekends.
But coming up with an efficient planning process for the publication of articles has long been a big challenge.
”Our first step was to create a flow where we don’t just publish everything at once. For many years, we worked from a print standpoint. So when reporters were finished with their article at 4:30 p.m., they clicked on ’Publish’ and then went home. And then the stories came all at once, even online,” says Marcus Ekdahl.
The newspaper managed to break that habit by dividing each news day into four sections, whereby the right type of article was published at the right time. But that led to a very time-consuming planning process where everything needed to be coordinated manually between several different departments.
”The best tool we had for digital planning was Google Documents, where we could write the time for when different articles would be published by each department. But that required a massive amount of manual work, especially when you needed to make changes,” says Marcus Ekdahl.
Infomaker has used ideas and suggestions from HD-Sydsvenskan to develop Publication Planner, an application for the Dashboard platform that provides a visual overview of all planned articles. With Publication Planner, the user can create columns that show which stories are set to be published at different times – either for the entire newspaper or for single categories like sports or local news. The articles are then published automatically at the set time. If an editor changes the publication time, the whole system is automatically updated so that all users can see the correct time.
That way, the entire news flow is visible on one screen.
”This is the first time we have a planning process that is entirely geared toward online. The advantage with Dashboard is that you get an automated tool for live planning. It allows you to quickly create live planning for an entire news day or even news week. It has saved us enormous amounts of time and effort because we don’t have to manually sync everything with different departments, says Marcus Ekdahl.
Publication Planner is the result of a close collaboration between Infomaker and its customers, where HD-Sydsvenskan has been a driving partner. The application is now available to all Dashboard users, and is already being used by several newspapers.
“This product highlights our approach to working together with our customers to find new solutions that meet their specific needs. Publication Planner is also updated continually to add new functions, such as a drag-and-drop tool that allows users to easily move articles between different columns,” says Erik Thörnqvist, project leader at Infomaker.
For HD-Sydsvenskan, using Publication Planner saves time. It also changed the newspaper’s approach to working digitally.
”The entire editorial desk has made a shift toward working with a focus on digital planning. But in the long run, that also makes the print newspaper stronger since we are now planning for an entire news week, which makes us better at looking ahead, says Marcus Ekdahl.
Another big benefit is that Publication Planner provides a better overview of the number of articles that are set to be published within each specific category. That allows the editorial desk to easily monitor whether they are meeting the set targets for the number of stories they want to produce. And by measuring the readership analytics for each article, they can also clearly see whether they are making the right decisions for when certain types of texts should be published.
”For us it’s a decisive step to be able to say: ’We’ve published enough stories.’ When we only had a print newspaper, everyone knew when work was finished for the day. But this is the first time we’ve been able to confidently determine that for the digital edition as well. And that means we can optimize our resources, which is what’s it’s all about in the end,” says Marcus Ekdahl.
HD-Sydsvenskan is one of Sweden’s largest media groups. We publish the topics people are talking about in southern Sweden and we help people make better decisions. With more than 170 years of experience, we can give our users the right information in the best possible way exactly when it is needed.
Infomaker works with solutions for publishing, archiving and distribution of content to the market's largest media houses and newspapers. Has more than 250 customers in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Holland, and more than 20 years of business experience.