Main-Post

Digital transformation of all editorial processes

With a circulation of 120,000 copies and almost five million visits to mainpost.de every month, the Main-Post Media Group is the news organisation with the greatest reach in Lower Franconia. It all started in 1883 when the «Würzburger Generalanzeiger» was founded. Today, innovation and digital transformation are driving the development of the regional media company with 1100 permanent employees.

Goals

  • Transition to «digital first»

  • Easy creation of digital content packages

  • Growth of non-substitutable content

  • Straightforward method of production
    (well-defined workflows and requirements)

  • An intuitive application for the authors

Results

  • Successful transition to «digital first»

  • High level of user satisfaction

  • High «utilisation depth»
    (various features are used)

  • «Digital storytelling» has been strongly promoted and developed

  • Increase of number of readers at mainpost.de, digital has become more attractive

Livingdocs has made the transition from newspaper journalism to digital journalism very easy for us.

Julia Haug,
Project editor Main-Post

Times of change

In the last decade, Main-Post has also considerably felt the effects of the ever-increasing upheaval in the publishing industry. Unsuitable and heavily print-oriented workflows and systems, an organisational structure that is no longer up to date with the advancing digitalisation, and the increasing cost pressure resulting from the continuous reduction of print newspaper sales were relevant triggers for a comprehensive reexamination and corresponding action.

In 2015, those responsible found themselves confronted with an editorial system that was almost 25 years old at the time, NEWS NT, which, although continuously updated and optimised, simply could not keep up with the modern requirements and the meanwhile distinct online focus. A radical rethink had to take place – a rethink at all levels, but without immediately replacing all the foundations, invested systems and employees. The management of Main-Post consulted the media consultancy Schickler in order to initiate and support the upcoming transformation process. We are in the year 2016. The «Aladin» project was born.

Aladin’s wish was Livingdocs

For the three-year «Aladin» project, three major wishes and accordingly three main objectives were defined:

  1. A 20% reduction in editorial costs (2015-2024)

  2. Growth in non-substitutable content

  3. Media-independent creation and supply of all content and the transition to digital workflows (Digital First)

The savings targets should be achieved with natural departures (retirement) and at the same time higher output through improved workflows and new editorial systems.

Very quickly it became clear that this transformation could not happen without the extensive involvement of the employees. More than half of all editorial staff members were directly involved in the transformation process in 8 working groups, and more than 25 of around 130 editors were given new roles and tasks as part of the process.

Choosing Livingdocs as the groundbreaking editorial system seemed obvious. The NZZ Media Group and Main-Post had both acted as long-standing co-investors and co-developers of the aged NEWS NT editorial system and have always had a friendly exchange of information about their publishing systems. The certainty that the St.Galler Tagblatt (at that time already part of the NZZ Media Group) had a very similar profile to Main-Post and had already experienced a successful transformation with Livingdocs, left nothing more in the way of a serious evaluation. In 2018 the first roll-out of Livingdocs took place at the Main-Post.

Editors work in Livingdocs. Freelancers upload their content to Livingdocs, where the editing takes place
Topic and production planning
Digital operating figures, incl. article score
Content-Management-System
Web-to-print, four-eyes principle before online publishing
huGO+ for data transformation and archiving
Production system for print edition layout and assembly

Livingdocs is used as the editor tool at Main-Post. Permanent authors create their content according to the online first principle. But also the content of freelancers is uploaded to Livingdocs, where it’s edited and then published online. Other content management functions are performed by the fCMS. For the print layout News NT works together with Livingdocs and huGO. The KPI analysis is carried out in Webtrekk, the planning in Desk-Net.

Another important goal was to make a sensible change in our print production.

Andreas Kemper,
Head of editorial and technology Main-Post

Transition and breakthrough – the system landscape

The successful transformation to an organisation that lives «Digital First» in every respect, in every system and every process has been well-achieved! Gone are the days of old-fashioned and forced print-to-online workarounds and the restrictive, media-specific creation and delivery of content. Creation is no longer coupled to the delivery. Livingdocs is also used for print production, as is the case with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. «Another important goal was to make a sensible change in our print production» adds Andreas Kemper, Livingdocs project manager and head of editorial systems and technology in the Main-Post's chief editorial office.

Livingdocs is far more than «just a system»

In order to carry out the transformation process as coordinated and integrative as possible, Main-Post relied on two designated project editors and a project manager with main responsibility for Livingdocs right from the very beginning of the project. Fortunately, what has developed from this goes far beyond the completed introduction and integration of Livingdocs. Julia Haug and Nike Bodenbach, both full-time project editors with previous editorial experience, remain the professional intersection to the editorial team and are their point of contact when questions arise. 

Of course, regular professional training of employees is also an important part of their work.

Julia Haug and Nike Bodenbach in action at one of their internal Livingdocs training courses.

Photo: Christoph Weiss, Main-Post

With Livingdocs, it has become very easy for authors to create really beautiful storytelling.

Julia Haug,
Project editor Main-Post

They carefully collect feedback and requests from the editorial offices, evaluate them conceptually and then pass on the necessary information and requirements to the technical managers and Livingdocs. Their conception, development and strategy work not only deals with Livingdocs, but also with how the whole organisation works integrated with all its systems. They analyse and plan appropriate workflows for the entire publishing process. This specific, coordinated interaction between editorial and technical departments could be a real model example for modern publishing companies. Livingdocs as a highly integrated, modifiable and constantly evolving system promotes and welcomes this organisational philosophy.


Livingdocs has enabled us to easily create complete ‹digital content packages› where different media components can be easily combined with each other.

Andreas Kemper,
Head of editorial and technology Main-Post

Storytelling and the intuitive editor

Project manager Andreas Kemper describes the «utilisation depth» as an important success of the deployment of Livingdocs at Main-Post. The editors don’t restrict themselves just with the bare essentials, but explore and use Livingdocs in its full scope. New functions are tried out and integrated into their own skills set, which in turn has a positive effect on their inspired writing. With the Livingdocs editor, the entire handling and content creation process has become much more intuitive, and with the media-independent «Digital First» approach, the editorial team has gained more capacity for creative work.

«Livingdocs has enabled us to easily create complete ‹digital content packages› where different media components can be easily combined with each other.» Digital has become more attractive! This has also made «mainpost.de» more attractive: After the introduction of Livingdocs, they have actually seen a considerable increase in readers. And as a pleasant side effect, through this transformation and through the sensible adaptation of print production, the print products have also become better.

New tools open up new possibilities. The narrative style has advanced in many places. «Digital Storytelling» has been strongly promoted and developed, also at Main-Post. A representative example is the «Main-Post-Story» section.

With the story format, the range of narrative styles has blossomed in addition to everyday multimedia articles. And with it the incentive for readers to become online subscribers has grown equally.

Julia Haug is pleased, «With Livingdocs, it has become very easy for authors to create really beautiful storytelling.»

All's well that ends well… and will certainly continue!

Digital transformation is not a process that is simply finished at some point. Project «Aladin» is officially completed. But the transformation continues. Projects become policies. This is how digital works. Technology keeps on moving and developing, so does society. With its impressive commitment, Main-Post has laid a strong foundation which leads to the future and allows its persons in charge to actively shape and influence future developments.

The next step is to link content planning and content creation more closely. Of course Livingdocs is happy to support Main-Post also in this area – with its corresponding Desk-Net-Livingdocs integration.