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What Does The Herald Go-live and The Maytag Repairman Have in Common? Print E-mail

September 12, 2007 

After The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington went live on the SAXOTECH publishing platform last month, news editor Mark Carlson wrote up an insightful article for his company's employee newsletter. We saw a copy and asked for permission to post it here, and the answer was "Yes, that would be fine with us. We’re extremely pleased." So here you go...

[The following article first appeared in Together We Can, the employee newsletter of The Herald, a Division of The Washington Post Company.]

In August, the newsroom switched to a new computer system for publishing the newspaper and heraldnet.com.

Our previous system, which was installed nearly 10 years ago, was no longer supported by its developer. It relied on outdated versions of Microsoft Word for writing and editing and Quark XPress for pagination. Also, it did not support online publishing.

Our new system from Saxotech is much more robust than our former system. Its database contains every type of content found in print and on the Web, and it includes a tool for planning the newspaper. Our implementation of the Saxo system uses Adobe InDesign, the new industry standard for page layout. For writing and editing, it employs Adobe InCopy, which is tightly integrated with InDesign and designed expressly for newspapers.

The new Saxotech system was launched Aug. 13 in the Sports department and Aug. 20 in News and Features. It soon will be installed at the Enterprise newspapers, La Raza and the Business Journal. Even though News wasn’t set to launch until Aug. 20, City Desk converted to Saxo and the News Desk began producing pages in the new  system during the week prior to launch.

The launches went extremely smoothly, even though page designers were learning InDesign after using XPress for, in some cases, nearly 20 years. There were a host of minor glitches and challenges, but all departments were closing well before deadline  within a few days. On the second official day after the launch, News handled an election night without a glitch. We took advantage of Saxo to pre-design pages with story shapes, so reporters were able to write stories that fit  exactly, on a tight deadline.

Things went so well that the Saxotech support person was as lonely as the Maytag repairman.  

The conversion was led by the Saxotech Power Users: assistant features editor Sally Birks, sports editor Kevin Brown, news editor Mark Carlson and technical services  manager Michael Lapham. They configured the system and devised new workflows.  

The Super Users group helped train staffers. They are photo editor Justin Best, assistant news editor Jon Bauer, assistant sports editor Tim Hintze, assistant city editor Scott North and presentation editor Doug Parry. The Enterprise’s Jocelyn Robinson also is Super User and will train her colleagues.  

Nola Coleman of Information Systems managed the project and served as a liaison between The  Herald and the vendor, Saxotech of Tampa, Fla.

 written by Mark Carlson, news editor, The Herald

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