NEWS published on 10 Jun 2013

IMPS at DR: media integration is about joined-up thinking

DR's integrated newsroom from above

The EBU’s Integrated Media Production Strategies (IMPS) project was in Denmark last week visiting DR’s ‘media city’ (DR Byen), an impressive testament to the Danish broadcaster’s convergence-driven thinking.

Under the IMPS initiative, 28 participants from 18 EBU Members visited the ultramodern facility, in Copenhagen, to see for themselves how the Danish broadcaster has brought online, radio and television production together in a single cohesive news engine.

DR was a media integration early adopter that applies the same forward thinking today, adapting workflows and introducing new technology to improve production efficiency. However, this does not mean savings are DR’s top priority, though. [ View the video ]

During the visit DR News Director Ulrik Haagerup stressed that "media integration is not a cost-cutting project, but a journalistic project”.

He said: “We are in the content business. No longer working just for specific media, such as radio or TV. We are working for the Danes – to inform and entertain them."

One example is the introduction of nine mobile Live Teams that roam Denmark daily to find and feed news back to the newsroom. Each consists of a journalist and cameraman equipped with cutting-edge technology, including continuous 3G/4G online connectivity and backpacks to transmit stills, lives, soundbites, text, images and so on to DR.

Back at base, journalists edit and assemble the material for the different programmes and platforms. Alongside the live teams, a number of media specialists work on longer pieces.

Jacob Kwon, Head of News Production, said this way of working, introduced during the 2011 general elections, has worked very well. "We managed to be where the action was,” he said. “We knew what was going on. Being successful during election time was crucial for us; otherwise no one would have dared to try it again."

The smooth running of the integrated set-up all depends on communication. Key among the staff is the cross-platform news editor, who decides which stories will be covered and by whom.

On the technology side, the in-house developed "DR Newsboard" makes sure priorities are continuously visible to all staff, irrespective of location or function. It is a simple newsroom run-down that is kept updated for all by all.

Another trick DR applied is to place a production planner close to the news editor. It is his role to make sure all necessary equipment, from studios to communications links, are available when needed. Smart integration of the DR archive and production storage completes the picture, and guarantees past and present audiovisual material is available to all users in any format at any time.

Besides the need for good communication, smartly applied technology and optimized workflows, there is a more fundamental aspect to get right for media integration to work well.

At the DR visit this was illustrated best by Vicki Therkildsen, a reporter on one of the Live Teams, who was asked what she thought of DR's intention to put "web and mobile first". She replied: "I haven't thought about it much; but won’t it be fun!"

The ability to change is, above all, a state of mind.