This is a copy of the last page the Daily Mail produced using QuarkXpress, part of its old publication system.
At left is the Friday, Dec. 26, 2014, edition of the Daily Mail’s Sports agate page, which has scores, stats and standings from local, college and pro teams. It probably doesn’t look too much different from the one in today’s paper. And that’s good.
Why? If you’ve been a longtime subscriber to our print edition — and if you aren’t, click here — the only changes you noticed in your paper probably came with the design we updated last winter. But from the production standpoint, a whole lot of things have changed.
About a year and a half ago, Charleston Newspapers contracted with SaxoTech, now News Cycle Solutions, to update a computer and programming system that had been in place for about 20 years, which is a long, long time, given the rapid pace of technology.
For an analogy of what was required, consider the components that comprised the old home entertainment center: a tuner, a turntable, a tape deck, a compact disc player, speakers, a VCR and a television set — about seven machines needed to provide music and video. These days, you can access all that with your average smartphone.
The Daily Mail, Gazette and Kanawha/Putnam Metro departments were using multiple programs that weren’t fully integrated; one was for writing stories, another for photos, another for page layout and one for uploading to the Internet. Our publications needed a central hub to give these programs a home where they could “talk” to each other better.
So SaxoTech helped us corral these disparate elements into a “content management system” that made it easier get text, photos and video together for a story, both in print and online. It took several months first to translate the way our newsrooms worked into its new CMS environment; it took a couple more to teach our staffers how to use it.
Meantime Charleston Newspapers’ IT department was doing the gruntwork of making sure our computers here in the city could speak with SaxoTech’s cloud-based hubs in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. (And here I will give my kudos to our techs for pulling this process off: Diana Morris, Jenny Lilly, Bill “Woody” Horn, Rob Maupin, Steve Campbell, Joel Armstrong, Ron Phillips, John Jarvis and Steve Jones — I salute you. And a tip of the hat, as well, to our pre-press manager, Kent Sowards.)
I took a selfie with SaxoTech reps Susan Gallant, left, and Beth Hilbig at the end of the first week of the paper’s go-live with its new content management system.
We went live with the new system on the first week of March with our implementation team — Susan Gallant and Beth Hilbig, who’d been our trainers from Day One — on-site to hold our hands, answer our questions and trouble-shoot any glitches in production. (To them I give thanks for their patience and guidance as we made the six-month transition.)
This is the first Sports agate page made entirely in Adobe InDesign, part of the Daily Mail’s new CMS.
While the newsroom was abuzz with nervous energy and the stumbles that come with doing something new, our papers rolled off the press with nary a hitch.
But — and there’s always a “but” — because it took a little while longer for our designer (me) and programmer to get our agate type formatted, we had two sections of the paper that were still done using the old system.
The News Digest weather package for page 3A was up and running in the new system by August. And by the end of December, the Sports agate page was ready to roll. So finally, and with little fanfare, the Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, edition of the Daily Mail became the first to be completed entirely in the new CMS.
And no one noticed. Which is fine by us.