McClatchy sets Carolinas data center
The Charlotte Observer will house CCI Europe NewsGate server that could eventually link seven newsrooms.
The McClatchy Co. this spring will launch a data center at The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer that could eventually link editorial operations among the publisher’s seven papers in the Carolinas.
Anchored by CCI Europe’s NewsGate application, The Observer (daily, 201,532; Sunday, 262,124) will go live with the software sometime in May, according to Neil Mara, news systems director. At its outset the data center will link The Observer and The Herald in Rock Hill, S.C., and facilitate content sharing between the publisher’s newsrooms.
“Since McClatchy’s purchase of Knight Ridder a year and a half ago, we’ve been looking at ways we can cooperate and one of the first things we did after the sale went through was to get all of the editors together to start talking about how they can improve coverage by coordinating and sharing information and stories,” Mara said. “This is not aimed just at efficiencies, it’s aimed at improving coverage and allowing us to do things we couldn’t do before.”
McClatchy has been sharing some content up to now, Mara said, and many of the papers in the group already use CCI’s NewsDesk editorial app for print production.
“We’ve already been engaged in the kinds of content sharing activities around news that this sort of system is built for, but we’ve been doing it with very crude tools,” Mara said.
Those tools include e-mail and sending stories intended for sharing through the McClatchy Tribune News Service.
NewsGate will go a step further to allow multiple newsrooms to exist within one system. The data center enables staff to review the budgets of sister papers and share content dynamically. It also facilitates management from print to digital outlets including text messaging, video and television.
“That’s really one of the things that was attractive to us about it,” Mara said. “NewsGate provides very comprehensive content planning tools, and that’s an area where editorial systems are normally quite weak,” Mara said.
With NewsGate, Mara said editors and content generators around the
Carolinas will have a better overall view of the various newsrooms. For The Observer and The Herald, the NewsGate server will allow content sharing while eliminating the need for duplication, according to Rick Thames, editor at The Observer.
“We have overlapping coverage areas with Rock Hill and some of the things we’re now doing twice, we’ll be able to do once, very easily,” he said.
Because of the news synergies throughout the Carolinas, Thames said the data center has “fabulous potential.”
“So much of what we’re doing in Charlotte the other papers will be naturally interested in, and to the extent that we have CCI in other places, we’ll be able to do this seamlessly.”
If the coordination and efficiencies expected are realized in the Charlotte/ Rock Hill rollout, McClatchy will install NewsGate at four additional South Carolina papers — The State in Columbia, The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet in Hilton Head — as well as The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.
“If this is successful, we envision extending it to the rest of those papers,” said Terry Geiger, director of corporate IT for McClatchy. “We also want to see what advantages it provides just in terms of consolidation of services to determine if we also want to extend it to our NewsDesk operations in Fort Worth and Kansas City.”
In that case, the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram and the Kansas City (Mo.) Star would likely serve as hubs, or data centers, for additional McClatchy papers in those areas.
“If it’s just more of a services consolidation, then just regionalizing under NewsDesk may be adequate,” he said.
Geiger said all seven papers should be able to work from a central server in Charlotte, and although some minor tweaks may be necessary, additional hardware won’t likely be needed.