Lights, Camera, Action – CLOUD. A newsroom in the cloud to be exact: and, for those who knew about it, a stand-out highlight of NAB 2015. While the industry is buzzing about professional applications for Cloud, we are making the big ideas a reality.
At the big show in Las Vegas, journalism and communications students from local universities were given tablets loaded with Dalet On-the-Go – a mobile app designed for journalists in the field to stay fully connected to a Dalet newsroom running on a cloud-based infrastructure. The student journalists covered highlights from the NAB show floor, landing interviews with CEO’s and getting product demonstrations.
In addition to serving as an educational activity for the students, the Newsroom in the Cloud was a real-life case study that revealed the opportunities and challenges that arise when using cloud technology to facilitate coverage of event-driven news. For the first time ever, students – who were also brand new to Dalet tools – operated an end-to-end news production, from story assignments to reporting on the scene to final output via news broadcast and social media.
To get the students up and running, chief editor of the Cloud Newsroom (and Customer Advocate at Dalet) Jonathan Coutts-Zawadzki, used embedded tools in the Dalet Galaxy-based system to aggregate content from Twitter and RSS feeds to determine which exhibitor announcements would be worth covering – much in the same way a newsroom’s assignment desk monitors and assigns stories. Students would receive assignments and could then use the Dalet On-the-Go mobile app or Dalet WebSpace to take and upload pictures, videos, and write and submit stories.
Using the Rundown Management feature in the Dalet Galaxy desktop client, Jonathan organized stories in a rundown, making corrections if needed, then approving or rejecting the stories. When he needed to step off the booth, he could use the client’s offline mode to cache current content onto his laptop and review them offline. When he was back on the booth and connected, all the changes he made updated automatically to the Cloud Newsroom.
Tight integration with social media made sending stories as easy as the push of a button, triggering an upload of the text and accompanying stills and video to a Drupal-based webpage and YouTube, as well as creating a Tweet and a link on Facebook. Dalet NetXchange sent all the rundowns with stories, images and videos collected in the Cloud to a local site for playout. At the show, when a rundown was approved, the stories were uploaded from the Cloud system to our booth’s news workflow demonstration area, where we broadcasted a show using the stories written by our student journalists.
At NAB, the Newsroom in the Cloud was still very much in the pilot stages, meaning there were inevitable kinks that needed to be worked out. Being in the abyss that is the Las Vegas Convention Center, we encountered internet connectivity issues, which made uploading stories a struggle at certain points. Stability on some of the lower cost Android-based tablets, particularly when handling video, was occasionally an issue – demonstrating the need to thoroughly test any consumer equipment used by journalists in the cloud. There was also a lag in Dalet WebSpace when everyone was on it at the same time – an issue that was easily resolved by increasing the power of the cloud-hosted virtual machine, proving the importance of appropriate provisioning of cloud infrastructure. Despite these minor glitches, at the end of four days, the journalists had a lot of positive things to say about the experience.
“Overall the system was very unique and helps connect field journalists to the main newsroom to contribute stories from the field,” said Nikiya Berry. The UNLV student journalist especially liked the instant upload to Drupal, YouTube, and automatic tweet that enabled the journalists to share submissions in real time.
Esraa Malha, another student journalist, particularly liked the video-editing feature. “Editing the stories on the cloud was really helpful because you don’t need to use different devices or programs; you just publish the story as soon as possible,” she explained. Her favorite part of the experience was publishing her first story. “I think that new users of Dalet On-the-Go would get that same rush after seeing their story published to Drupal. It was really fast and exciting.”
“The best part of the system for me was how easy and intuitive it was to use,” Sydnie Lopolito, a student journalist out of Boston, reported. The system had everything she needed for creating a story. After only a half hour of newsroom training she felt confident enough with the system to venture out and start reporting.
After the student journalists completed their interviews, product demonstrations, and show floor walk through they recorded interviews right from the Dalet booth. This gave them the opportunity to be on the other side of the camera, giving them the total newsroom experience. Using this system at the NAB Show demonstrated the benefits of using a cloud-based newsroom for event-driven productions like sporting events, live shows, and elections.
Collaboration and innovation were center stage at NAB 2015, and we’re proud to say Newsroom in the Cloud combined both themes into one exciting package. And now that we feel we can call our proof-of-concept a success, it’s time to expand upon the Newsroom in the Cloud and give ourselves a few more challenges to overcome, perhaps at IBC 2015…
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