Wow, it’s been over a month since I took ownership of a print and online newspaper here in my community. There’s a lot to say about that experience and what I’ve learned so far. In this post, I’ll be focused on the tools and technology we’re using to operate this business. Some of these were in place before I came in, some are new in the last month.
I’m sharing this because (a) I generally enjoy the topic of if/how tools can make life and business easier, and (b) I hope it could be useful to someone else publishing a newspaper or building a media organization.
Print Layout and Design
It’s Adobe Creative Cloud all the way, for better or worse. InDesign for newspaper layout, Photoshop for image editing. Given the way our staff is set up and our weekly newspaper production process works, almost everyone touches the newspaper pages at some point or another, so the monthly license costs to cover all of that is somewhat ouch. If there were a viable alternative to InDesign, we’d probably switch to it.
Issue and Story Budget Planning
We’re using an Airtable base that helps us record story ideas and plan for our upcoming issues by tracking what articles are going to go where, what state their in, and all the associated data that goes with them such as photos, source info, internal notes, etc. It’s pretty great and the real-time collaboration that it makes possible is hard to beat. I think down the road we may move toward a custom Laravel-powered solution that allows for tighter integration of all of our business operations, but that’s a ways off.
We’re using a self-hosted FreePBX (Asterisk) installation with the Sysadmin Pro and EndPoint Manager paid add-on modules. Digital Ocean had a 1-click installer on their marketplace that made it super fast to get going. We’re using VOIP.ms for our trunk lines and they made DID porting in very easy.
Having used Asterisk in a previous business I was already familiar with its architecture and features, but FreePBX meant I could configure everything via web interface instead of editing dialplan files – amazing. We have extensions, queues, interactive voice menus, voicemail speech to text transcription (using this tool) and more, and it sets up a nice foundation for future integration with other tools like our CRM data.
We’re using Yealink T31P and T33G VOIP phones and so far Counterpath’s Bria Mobile has been the most compatible/feature complete softphone for iOS that I’ve found.