To facilitate technological innovation within media organisations, nonprofit software developer Sourcefabric z.ú. has launched a new roundtable to help news agencies share development costs and improve the tools that deliver their journalism to clients.
Called the Superdesk Wire Club, the forum will serve as a development steering committee for news agencies that use Superdesk, our open-source newsroom management solution. Through the club, members will identify features or functions that are of shared interest and then decide on collectively funding their development. Founding members of the Superdesk Wire Club include Norwegian news agency NTB, Belgian news agency Belga, and the Australian Associated Press (AAP). Additional agencies are expected to join soon.
“This is about people talking to each other, but it’s also about coordinating solutions,” says Karel Petrák, Sourcefabric project manager and Wire Club organiser. “What do Superdesk users need and want most? The Wire Club will help us answer that question.”
Since Superdesk’s public release in early 2016, nearly a dozen publishers have adopted the CMS or are transitioning to the software, including some of Europe’s leading news agencies. Every month, the platform delivers more than 300,000 news items to over 80 million readers on four continents. Because Superdesk is built on open-source code base, users can collectively make improvements; the Superdesk Wire Club will facilitate this collaboration.
Geir Terje Ruud, NTB’s chief development officer, said: “It’s a good idea to build a system for cooperation between customers and users on systems like Superdesk. If we, as customers, can pull or push in the same direction, development will be faster, more efficient and definitely closer to the needs of the customers.”
Tom Wuytack, Belga’s CIO, added: “The Wire Club will allow us to sit in the driver’s seat to ensure that further evolution of the Superdesk software remains relevant for Belga. It will also give us direct insight into useful innovations and integrations from other agencies.”
With journalism still facing difficult economic times, news agencies have begun to cooperate to improve efficiencies and address shared technological challenges. For instance, a group of six European news agencies – led by Dutch agency ANP – is working to develop a system to determine what content users find most engaging. Another initiative, a collaboration between the German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur and STT, the Finnish news agency, aims to help news agencies track and match content to reader preferences.
But the Superdesk Wire Club is one of the only forums in the world for news agencies to partner on the development of a common newsroom CMS.
Aslan Aslanov, President of the News Agencies World Congress, says disruptive technologies – particularly social media and mobile platforms – have made technological cooperation among media organisations all the more vital. Any network that brings news agencies together “can help agencies find significant solutions to [shared] challenges,” he said.
Wolfgang Nedomansky, Managing Director of MINDS International, one of the world’s leading networks of news agency CEOs, CTOs, editors and business professionals, concurs. “Efficiency and collaboration are keys for the success of news agencies in the future,” he says.
Club membership is open only to news agencies. With many of the world’s news agencies facing a variety of commercial, political, and technological challenges, the club’s initial aim is to strengthen this key part of the media industry.
Sourcefabric’s Karel Petrák says: “We want our news-agency partners to have a seat at the Superdesk development table, and the Superdesk Wire Club is one way to do that.”