Saturday, May 26, 2012

For Memorial Day Weekend, a NewsGate memo

NewsGate Director Stacey Martin sent the following memo last night about problems with the CCI NewsGate software that the U.S. newspapers use to process story and photo files.


We are experiencing heavy page output and proof volume this evening. I know that it is tough but please be patient. Right now the backlog is up to 30 minutes.

PLEASE don't resend files if you don't see them immediately. If you send something and you don't have it within 30 minutes, resend at that time.

As much as is feasible and reasonable, please proof pages on the screen rather than on paper.

We are working on expansion of our output farm to allow us avoid this kind of delay.
For tonight, I beg your patience. Nothing is offline or stopped, just lots of files as we all try to hit daily and advance section print deadlines heading into the holiday weekend.

If you are working on a product that you know doesn't go on press until after your daily product -- PLEASE hold off on output until later this evening, once your daily product is out.

Stacey Martin
Director, Enterprise NewsGate Practice

Earlier: In crash probe, a NewsGate upgrade is delayed.


  1. I feel bad for her. Overseeing a shitty system that everyone depends on is a no win situation. Let's hope that one Memorial Day, well honor the burial of the Clunky, twitchy, user unfriendly Newsgate system.

  2. Someone has got to do something about this situation. It takes twice as long and twice or three times as many people to produce a page using the design center and Newsgate. It's sucking the life out of our newsroom.

  3. maybe the people who bought newsgate for gannett had no idea how many products gannett newspapers produce and how much advance is done on a holiday weekend

  4. It is just astonishing that even when CCI is running OK that it can't handle the predictable load of a looming holiday weekend. Who specs this kind of underpowered system? We know the Danes are clueless but why can't Gannett figure out what it needs and buy a system that works?

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  6. Gee, Gannett is in the farming business, too? WTF is an output farm, and how us it being "expanded"?

    Sounds like a big charade to cover up their incompetence and lack of planning.

  7. I can only laugh at this... and I do.

  8. I feel bad for Stacey too. At least she sends out memos when the system is overloaded or crashing. But I feel bad for those of us who toil to get the clunky, non-user friendly Newsgate to cooperate.

    I echo what 5:22 says. And with new sites ready to start in June, I only fear it will get worse.

  9. I think there's at least a 50 percent chance that Stacey Martin is a bot created by Gannett IT. Just input the problem, and the bot sends an email saying be patient, there will be another email in 15 minutes.

  10. Hey, it all shook out by about 10:30 p.m. Friday. Our pages went through in five minutes, instead of the 30-plus minutes it took the rest of the night.

  11. It has been clear from the beginning to those of us who edit/design on the system that Gannett does not have enough servers (that's what the reference to "output farm" boils down to). That's why system response is routinely slow, why a function will work for awhile then suddenly not work at all (text overset, for one example). It's a cost issue and we're reaping the harvest of that bad but predictable decision: do everything cheap.

  12. One thing they told us about the system, that seemed like a good idea in the abstract, was that we could see the stories and pages of everyone else in the system, and we could make copies of others' stories for our web.

    Turns out it doesn't work well at all. It messes things up on our web stories bigtime. And I saw one site that copied a story from us and ran it in print. And the parts that were in "notes"? They ran in print, too.

  13. The "notes" are sometimes more interesting than the story they're in.

  14. 12:56, sounds like someone at your site fucked up. Those things don't just happen, you know. People make them happen.

    But I guess it's better to believe the gremlins do it. That way, no one takes the fall.

  15. 1:38 I made no mention of gremlins. And no one ever "takes the fall," no matter what stupid thing they do. I'm not saying that's right, that's just how it is.

    The trouble with Newsgate is that there are far more chances for things to go wrong, or for people to do stupid things.

  16. Metaphorical face plant!! It's exciting to see all this unfolding while remembering who made the decision to purchase this system and why the decision was made; ya get what ya pay for.

    the way things are going now, it won't be long before we have a crash of monumental proportions and won't be able to recover in time to produce a paper.

  17. @2:21, it won't be just "a" paper not publishing if the system has a monumental crash. (And it will.) How many are on board now? 40 sites? With more to come in June. It's going to be an exciting summer.

  18. Granted, most of the readers here are from the editorial side of the house but my wife worked in prepress during the transition to GIADC, the ad outsourcing in Des Moines and Indy.

    She saw the exact same thing then - except instead of tech issues it was more the fact that hiring 250 artists in Iowa means you get a lot of people with pulses instead of art degrees.

    It seems ridiculous that after so many consolidations that have cost more, taken longer and resulted in minimal results, somebody up the line didn't question the technical needs a little more vociferously.

    Stacey, keep at it and keep telling us when there are issues. You send the only corporate email that's worth opening each day - even if it's usually been bad news.

  19. 3:23 PM is correct. Just waiting for that night when at least a dozen newspapers don't publish because of the NewsGag system or the expanding farm. (Farm? Is that a typo in the message from St Martin?)

    And behold the mighty haboob: Digital will swoop in and save the situation, 24/7. Subscribers will send cash for all the excellent digital content they receive.

    The Great NewsGag Night Off is going to happen soon, probably when USAT/Newsgag staff are on vacation and the outstanding instructions to PLEASE DON'T OUTPUT this and that are not sent out!

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  21. @5:22, I know what you're saying. I'm from editorial but I've worked closely with the other departments that are instrumental in getting the paper out each night. And I feel your wife's pain; I see the ads that come from the shop, and I am appalled.

    They're hard to read, the type is too small and they do reverse type way too often. I can't believe advertisers aren't shrieking in horror. Maybe they don't even look at the ads once they're in the paper. I know there are many ads I overlook because I just can't read them. And I'm not even an oldster yet.

  22. NewsGate is slow and unreliable. Our stories often get stuck in the frozen system. We've been threatened with our jobs if we write outside the system and cut and paste. But our EE is clueless about the NewsGate nightmare in which we're living and continues to crack the whip to meet his early deadlines designed to bolster his ego. He loves to brag that our paper is consistently beating out other papers in sending our copy in early to the design studio. He's more focused on that than making sure he's not killing his staff in the process and producing the best copy. I'm sure there's a bonus in there for him somewhere. And, finally, we have no real way to troubleshoot problems that crop up dozens of times a day.

  23. i wonder if they're running Newsgate on repurposed MLM servers.



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