Nine’s Ink platform integrates print, digital production in complex newsrooms

By Ben Woodhead

Nine/Nine Publishing/Ink

Sydney, NSW, Australia

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The creation of newspapers as “a daily miracle” is a well-worn cliché. It’s also one that’s never more true since the addition of myriad digital channels to our storytelling arsenal.

So what would we say if a newsroom had to perform the miracle for not one, but two print newspapers and four subscription-led Web sites seven days a week? That’s the challenge faced by the journalists who produce Nine’s capital city mastheads, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Brisbane Times, and WAtoday.

For the newsroom of more than 500 — substantial but a fraction of similarly high-profile mastheads in the United States — efficiency, coordination, and cooperation are key.

Meeting the challenge 

At WAtoday, that means a reporter might file breaking news, update the homepage, and edit a colleague’s copy in a single shift. The national business editor, meanwhile, is tasked with planning pages for two print mastheads, maintaining the Business section’s online presence and feeding each of the four Web sites’ five daily homepage editions.

With a daily output of about 100 original stories, it’s a similar situation at Nine’s flagship national business daily, The Australian Financial Review. Integrated workflows are critical to sustaining the country’s most trusted business journalism across six days a week of print and very high value subscription digital channels.

To assist the mastheads in successfully delivering digital subscriptions growth while stabilising and sustaining multiple print editions, Nine has built Ink.

Nine's Ink platform makes it easier to deliver digital content across multiple platforms.
Nine's Ink platform makes it easier to deliver digital content across multiple platforms.

Ink brings together integrated print-digital planning, content creation, production, homepage editing, newsletters, video publishing, and machine learning in a single, consistent platform. Journalists move easily between tasks and roles thanks to an emphasis on intuitive design that requires little to no new learning. Ten minutes of training has production journalists, whose legacy is print, subbing newsletters alongside newspaper copy.

At the heart of Ink are discoverable newslists that allow the planning of print and digital channels to take place side-by-side, sometimes even in the same list. Lists are integrated with the masthead Web sites, Atex’s CyberPage, and Adobe’s InDesign, allowing editors to plan clear, curated hierarchies regardless of channel. Colour-coded workflows and custom flags signal at a glance when a story is ready for a page, without the need for messaging. Digital and print editors drag content directly from the newslist to Web, newspaper, or magazine pages.

Colour-coded workflows and custom flags let digital and print editors know when content is ready for them to work on.
Colour-coded workflows and custom flags let digital and print editors know when content is ready for them to work on.

Newslists support all story formats as well. Videos, live blogs, newsletters, and photo galleries can live equally in plans alongside standard and feature article formats. When it comes to getting the right content to our subscribers at the right time to maximise both audience and newsroom value, no story is left behind.

Nor is any channel, with a deliberate choice not to hive off print into an entirely separate team, as some organisations have done. Innovative print cut markers and the provision of print and digital word counts mean a columnist can confidently fit their words to a shape without leaving the authoring environment. Quality is consistent across channels, with highly visual editing ensuring both text and presentation are front of mind.

Powerful results

The results speak for themselves. The migration of newsletter editing into Ink in 2019 reduced the time taken to write, edit, and produce The Age’s and The Sydney Morning Herald’s flagship morning newsletters by 60%. Ink’s syndicated video publishing tool reduced the time taken to prepare and publish AP video from as much as seven minutes to under one minute, while also aligning video workflows with text. The Herald saves more than a shift a week copy-fitting, thanks to Ink’s integration with print. These are just some of the benefits.

By working closely with the newsroom — hearing what our journalists need, and ensuring all channels have an equal place in planning, editing, and production — Ink is driving new efficiencies and transparency for Nine’s mastheads. For the product and technology teams that build and maintain Ink, this holds true to our mantra — every minute wasted in an inefficient platform is a minute that could be spent making journalism worth subscribing to.

About Ben Woodhead

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