K Yegneshwara Iyer, Vice President & Head of Technology, Times Network

A newsroom system sits at the heart of every media newsroom. Newspaper, television, radio, magazines, all use and benefit from some form of a central newsroom system. Comprised of software and hardware components, a newsroom system for television is the spinal cord that all other operations of news gathering, aggregation, selection, preparation, approval, and transmission depend on.

Most newsrooms are not geared for challenges that have plagued television news producers and broadcasters. Future newsroom systems will address these key issues in a way that makes news delivery process seamless and intuitive.

All television news producers and broadcasters use content from other producers. All content is sold with strict restrictions on usage like:

  • lEmbargoes on release of news must be respected.
  • lGeographical restrictions must be adhered to.
  • lIn case of video, limits on number of seconds of video per day or per hour are normal.
  • lBroadcasters must ensure proper credit to content creators when their content is aired.
  • lFor all media, the medium of distribution needs to be tracked and content rights may be available for selected media only.
  • lAny piece of content may only be shown a given number of times within a certain period.

There are other myriad conditions applied to content that media operations must track. Most of this tracking is done manually; existing systems are rudimentary and do not allow for fine grain control across operational systems. This makes tracking of media usage a difficult process. Audit of usage of media typically requires a human being to painstakingly go through the produced material, looking for usage of copyrighted material.

All media types, without the ability to track the flow of media and its usage across the publishing spectrum, present many manual challenges to broadcasters. Most of these challenges are tracked and managed using e-mails, worksheets, slanging matches, and caution reports from content owners.

Newsroom systems need to evolve into integrated platforms that can collaborate with other publishing systems and platforms to exchange information on media available and served. An MOS-like protocol needs to be developed where all sub-systems can gain insights into all available media and their availability to other platforms.

The protocol should also allow for consumers to submit number, duration, location of use of the media to respective owner systems. This will allow for all systems to send and receive requests from all other systems and to record usage. This will create an information exchange for all media assets that all media operations can dip into for use.

Most newsrooms allow for producers and journalists to view individual elements of a production like raw material, add-on secondary elements, finished product, etc. What they lack is a way to define a process within the new production system to help track the journey of a production. Be it a video that needs a simple cut edit or a video that requires multiple inputs, be it audio production or image creation or touch up, all media has a process that is required to be followed before it is put into production. Newsroom systems will move toward tracking the steps of these processes. Notifications at each point will help with push collaboration within and outside a newsroom.

With consumers becoming more mobile, it has long been the need for news gatherers to also be mobile to meet immediate challenges of news as it happens. Newsroom systems have not completely kept pace with this need for distributed, mobile working. A mobile newsroom will allow complete freedom to journalists, producers, and editors to contribute to the newsroom process seamlessly from wherever they are, without the complication or necessity of a desk within a LAN.

Newsroom systems have come a long way and have revolutionized the way newsrooms function across the world. It is now time for their evolution into a smart partner for newsrooms.