Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Discuss reports of last night's CCI NewsGate outage

In a comment, Anonymous@12:04 a.m. wrote: "Speakin' of rocking new technology, was the NewsGate outage Tuesday evening a national issue or just a local one at my site? How again is NG going to make our papers better? Anyone?"

Responding at 9:45 this morning, Tommy Edison wrote: "NewsGate was running like crap yesterday and had to be taken down for 'emergency repairs' around 7:25 p.m. Eastern last night. Please tell me which one of the five overpaid failures gets a bonus for that decision. Typing a word and waiting, waiting, waiting for it to appear on the screen is so 1988."

Note: CCI NewsGate is the estimated $15 million front-end system Corporate installed beginning in 2010 to help unite all word processing across U.S. newspapers. It's part of the establishment of five central hubs that will design and build pages for most of the 80 community papers.


  1. How long was CCI down last night? Has this happened before? What specific impact did it have on any missed news, press deadlines, etc.?

  2. The outage was 45 minutes to an hour. My site still hit its deadlines but it was a scramble.

  3. Bonuses for all management involved. And throw in a new set of Callaway golf clubs and bag for Dick-hed-ey. I'm calling for a pow wow in Palm Springs at a luxury hotel so management can figure this one out while chugging cocktails by the pool.

  4. System was officially down 35 minutes, tho' we were warned 5 minutes earlier to shut down. We probably did indeed lose about 45 minutes worth of work time. The system got an upgrade on Sunday -- it is not unusual after such upgrades to have some new problems for a few days. The system shutdown needed to occur -- as the earlier poster said, the system had become incredibly slow -- several seconds to made any change in text. System wasn't perfect after the reboot, but it was much faster. Some papers made deadlines, others were late -- partly because of the CCI problem and partly because of the need to get in the State of the Union address, which was happening close to a lot of papers' deadlines.

  5. The best part was the e-mail after the reboot advising something to the effect that "only users who need to use Newsgate should be using it for now." Like anyone uses it for the fun of it?

  6. We were warned at least an hour before, but night before the State of the Union wasn't troubling. We have been using NG for several months now and things are not necessarily getting easier or better as they did with previous systems. In fact, you frequently lose time to "spinning wheels" and "system not responding" messages. It is a complicated nightmare, quite frankly. I'd think maybe it was easier for designers who now are on track to design several papers, but we have a design hub here and they have many technical problems too.

  7. I meant timing "was troubling" and it has happened a few times before, in addition to regular "fixes"

  8. System is nearly impossible to use for writing. We have to work in word, cut and paste into NG, clear formatting, etc. What a mess.

  9. Tommy Edison1/25/2012 9:58 PM

    The CCI system was STILL balky today Type a word, sometimes, just a letter and it appears on the screen multiple seconds later. Ditto for cutting pasting and deleting. Editors were having worse problems. E-Mail from the Corporate CCI guru said they're still looking for the root problem. Wonderful. That's what you get for being a Beta site for a product. That is what our Newgate trainer told us, that GCI was the U.S. Beta site...

  10. Centralized servers was a bad idea from the get go. Single point of failure, as we witnessed Tuesday night.

    By hey, who cares if the paper is late to the customer, we're going digital.

  11. When we did NewsGate training at my site, the question about server crashes and redundancy was raised.

    It went something like this:

    Q (from designer): So this is all on one network and if NewsGate goes down in Louisville, for example, NewsGate goes down everywhere?

    A (from NewsGate trainer): Yes, it's all one network and hypothetically if it goes down on one site, it COULD (emphasis mine) go down everywhere.

    Q: Is that a good idea? Is there a backup?

    A: NewsGate won't go down, so it's fine and there's no need for a backup.

    Q: Really?

    A: Really.

    End of discussion.

    We seriously had this discussion and that's seriously more or less how it went. (Discussion took place in Phoenix, not Louisville, buy Louisville was used as the example so we wouldn't seem like a bunch of narcissists in Phoenix.)

    The NG crash hit the Mountain Time Zone and Pacific papers relatively early in the production cycle so it was easier to recover. I can't imagine how tense things must have been on the East Coast.

    Even when NG came back it was extremely slow with lots of spinning beach balls and long wait times to do anything.

    I hope the corporate types that thought NG was a good idea are enjoying their bonuses and the swag they scored from the Danes for buying this piece of crap.

  12. At our training, it was about 10 a.m. when the system slowed way down for the trainer. He said you can tell when people arrive for their shifts (typically at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.) and all get on the system because it gets real sluggish.

    Someone asked what happens then on election night, for example, when EVERYONE will be on the system throughout Gannett. The trainer basically shrugged his shoulders.

    But remember what Kate Marymount said, this is about improving quality across the chain.

  13. I am a designer at a Gannett newspaper and I am thinking about joining a design center after my paper goes to the hub. The problem I am having is there has been no information about how CCI is working so far and what the workflow in CCI is like for designers. It seems as if everyone who is at a design center has been told to not say anything about them. In order for me to make a decision I would like as much information as possible. Can someone who works at a center please let us know how things are working out? Thanks

  14. The real question to ask HQ is do they know what caused the problem? They don't know, and they can't know because its too complicated to sort out.

    I know because I am a part of the team that put this albatross in place.

  15. The NewsGate system may be a great idea -- easing the distribution and sharing of content across platforms and outlets. But in practice, this system is a huge loser, a drain on productivity and a hopelessly complex and obtuse program seemingly written without users in mind. Nothing is intuitive about the system.

    What's worse, it is buggy, prone to crashing, next to impossible to write or create in, and hopeless to try to learn. And worst of all is the training. Trainers do not know the system or more to the point do not know how it is used in a newsroom. They seem to apologize for it, and they are unable to explain how to to navigate it in a way that is repeatable. Even the trainers admit the multiple changes, while adding some functionality, inexplicably take away other functions.

    From a user's standpoint, just finding the appropriate folder, and the appropriate file within that folder, is a hair-pulling exercise in frustration. Countless deadlines missed and web filings slowed by this clunky and backward system.

    Please, if you are on the team that dumped this on us, can you press for the Danes to at least improve it so it is understandable and usable?

  16. NG is an acceptable system. There are backup processes in place, in case the NG-system goes down. The system addresses issues with content for multiple platform devices, imaging and production costs. The efficiencies out-weigh any user's discontent. Like many systems, users are encouraged to first "create" the content from their own computers before submitting through the system. This is just good practice when using any system for submission of content.

  17. I especially like the production-solutions that have been addressed by the NewsGate system. We had some serious issues with usat production over the years. Many of the old-school compositors and strippers (prior to advent of desktop computers) who remained with the company, lacked efficient photo image enhancement skills. Some of our photos had to be contracted out to third-parties, because the "old" production staff did not have the capability inhouse. These were serious issues, that are now being addressed & solved within the company.

  18. 10:57am,
    Atex (typography-production) was used in the 1970's. You are completely ignorant of modern-publishing needs and technological solutions. NewsGate is a solution for modern-times, and it quickly becoming an industry standard.

  19. I call shenanigans on 1:16

    It's actually MUCH harder to share articles between newspapers than it was under Quark. Pushpinning was logical and easy and it worked.

    You sound like someone who's never even seen the inside of a newsroom, frankly.


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