The Lenfest Institute for Journalism announced Tuesday that it’s part of a new partnership with The Washington Post. That partnership will bring Arc Publishing, the Post’s content management system for newsrooms, to the Philadelphia Media Network. PMN includes Philly.com, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News.
Lenfest, the non-profit owner of PMN, will help pay for PMN’s transition to Arc and also share best practices and lessons learned with the 12 newsrooms that are part of the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative. (Disclosure: Lenfest helps fund Poynter, and the Knight Foundation helps fund my coverage of local news.)
"As with all of our work, the goal and plan for this strategic alliance is to accelerate digital transformation and technology transfer as efficiently and effectively as possible, to benefit local journalism as a whole and at scale,” said Jim Friedlich, Lenfest’s CEO and executive director. “The Washington Post-Lenfest partnership allows major news operations to learn from and benefit from our work and apply it to their own.”
Last fall, Fast Company reported that a number of publications, including the Los Angeles Times and Alaska Dispatch News, were also using Arc.
"In aggregate, sites running on Arc reach 300 million readers; publishers pay based on bandwidth, which means that the more successful they are at attracting readers, the better it is for Arc Publishing," according to Fast Company. "The typical bottom line ranges from $10,000 a month at the low end up to $150,000 a month for Arc’s biggest customers."
“Arc’s platform is uniquely structured to accelerate digital innovation, making it ideally suited for local publishers like The Inquirer and the Daily News,” said Scot Gillespie, chief technology officer at the Post in a press release. “We hope this collaboration will serve as a model for other major metropolitan publishers making the digital-first transformation.”
That transformation hasn’t been easy. In addition to the impact of continual layoffs, technology has been a major speed bump for newspapers that are trying to become digital newsrooms. PMN committed itself to getting the tech that happens behind the scenes right early on. And The Dallas Morning News built its own CMS after a smaller experiment with its entertainment vertical.
This is the first time newsrooms in PMN have gotten a new CMS in two decades, and it marks a milestone in its transformation, Stan Wischnowski, executive editor, told the newsroom in a memo. "… Arming our journalists with world-class technology is essential for us to achieve our strategic goals," he wrote.
The benefits of the Arc system are many but chief among them are improving user experience, increasing our journalists access to digital tools, deepening reader engagement with our content, and offering a much more nimble design template for our producers.
PMN will test new tools for Arc and start moving onto the CMS this spring.