Digital Collections DC-X and ppi Media’s Content-X

The vital role of DAMs for newspaper publishers


In publishing companies, the archive or storage of finished editions has moved from the end of the workflow to the middle of it – stored assets are no longer an archive for historians. Digital Asset Management Systems or DAMs have become a live and simultaneous resource for journalists, content developers, video and podcast creators, and digital marketing and subscription teams that work for the same news media and publishing house.

For instance, one story in print may have five versions on the web platform. In fact, with digital-first, it may be more accurate to say that five dynamic versions of a web story accompanied by an orchestra of video and social media channels may yield only a single story in the next morning’s print edition. DAMs help to manage all those story versions in a single place.

One of the best known archival systems is Digital Collections DC-X that has been installed by newspapers around the world and in India. It works with a wide variety of editorial or front-end publishing systems such as ppi Media’s Content X, CCI’s Newsgate and Cue, and Eidos Media’s Methode. In 2019 Digital Collections was acquired by Stibo DX.

Essentially DC-X provides the handling of a large number of data assets in one place and in real-time. It can manage millions of assets for cross-media publishing and give journalists worldwide access. Assets are tagged by semantic analysis and, optionally, via artificial intelligence. People and objects can be recognized automatically, while the speech-to-text function enables text search in videos. Editorial teams and content developers can see coverage of other media in real-time, while simultaneously accessing press photos, agency reports, social media and RSS feeds and archived data.

DC-X connects all teams involved in content production, and its rights management tools let them know which and how images may be used. With the multiple uses of assets, copyright becomes a vital part of publishing with assets of both third parties and news publisher’s own assets needing to be managed.

The transition from archives to dynamic digital assets

We had an opportunity to interview Matthias Fischer, Sales Director of ppi Media, which sells the DC-X solution in India together with its own editorial solution Content-X and its back-end solution for page pairing and production. ppi Media solutions are used by ten newspapers in the country. ppi Media is active in India with full-time country manager Hemant Kumar and recent successes at ABP in Kolkata, The Printers Mysore, and the Dainik Jagran group.

However, apart from the two dailies that have installed ppiMedia’s Content-X on top of the DC-X solution, there are other users of DC-X in India. The DC-X solution is a stand-alone archival or asset management system that more than 140 news media houses around the world have purchased independently of the content or editorial solutions – and this goes for Indian publishers also.

From fire and forget to continuous interaction

Matthias Fischer described the transition or movement from digital archives to digital asset management solutions – “Initially archives were for storing a few content types like full pages and published pictures. They were just storage after the newspaper was printed, and there was a little re-use of archive items for syndication. In those days, the news was mostly local content.”

With digital assets, such as photos and videos, and platforms and channels being able to broadcast them on the internet and search engines, everything changed. Fischer explained, “At first it was fire and forget, the paper was published, and you forgot about it. Later the relevance of these assets grew for everyday production. Many papers even scanned and digitized their old pages in the physical archives with an OCR system to re-use the content in different ways.

“An archive is only content that you have published stored in a central database. But a digital asset management solution contains a lot more information. It stores all types of assets, including relevant Metadata and every piece of information that was part of the publishing process.”

Matthias Fischer, Sales Director of ppi Media

Fischer continued, “An archive is like a wastebasket, and maybe you will take something out, but a DAM is more like a dynamic resource and today an essential part of the editorial workflow. People from the editorial department get access to these assets. Since nowadays you can get news anywhere, journalism will have to change. For storytelling, you need background information, especially if you want to write something or reference something that happened some years ago. You may also want to find related content and assets. That is what a DAM system is for, and it is an essential part of the editorial workflow. The DAM helps to streamline the editorial process, and you can store not only your content but also content from wire services or other sources in it. This is why we decided to develop Content-X in partnership together with Digital Collections.”

The DC-X DAM can quickly find related content, even using semantic analyzers. Even during the editorial process, the system can do the tagging in the background, and there is a system efficiency in storing assets no matter how many times they are accessed or re-used. Semantic analyzers can find related content in the system.

Fischer explained that rights management is increasingly important in media environments, “The rights management aspect of the system, of course, allows you to monitor the rights attached to all assets and manage your assets and content accordingly. You can even have an expiry strategy depending on the rights to various assets.” In answer to another query, he said that for a modern content or news media publisher, it has become essential to have in-house DAM as an essential part of the editorial publishing process. “There should be a centralized and localized storage server, but there are also cloud solutions.”

Fischer explained that now the DAM sits in the middle of any news media workflow. “When we at ppi Media started to develop the Content-X editorial system, we decided to build it around an existing asset management system. In Content-X, we can create the content and put it into various channels and also simultaneously and continuously put it in the DAM for real-time sharing with others in content creation and channels such as the video or web platforms.”

When we queried Fischer a bit further about Content-X linking to third party web CMS solutions, he gave us a hint of some new things to come from ppi Media. “We are working on a concept where we will have the web CMS integrated into Content-X itself. We will be able to give you more information on this in the next couple of weeks,” he said.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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