The News Challenge

Most content comes in and, within a few days, needs to be bounced around a news department. To manage it, companies like Avid, Pinnacle and Thomson, among many others, have been developing their own systems.

"By any definition of the term, asset management needed tighter integration with the production tools than any stand-alone vendor has been capable of delivering," explains David Schliefer, director of Avid Broadcast.

Without integration, he adds, DAM turns into the management of assets that exist purely as assets, separate from most professional production processes. "As a result, those systems do not prove their value in the production chain but rather as warehouses for sites where very large amounts of assets simply needed to be tracked."

Asset management succeeds best when it is invisible, Schleifer observes.

There is no place in a broadcast facility where that is more important than a newsroom, and, like the librarians, those who work in a digital newsroom are seeing workflow changes because of it.

Reporters are getting intimately involved with putting together story packages, handling graphic creation, and editing. They don't have the time (or inclination) to learn complex systems so the approach needs to be clean and simple.

Avid's systems, Schliefer notes, are built around workflow. "Specifically, with broadcasters, there is often no room to impose additional steps in the process, even if they will deliver value downstream."

Examining the simple workflow of writing, editing and airing a news story reveals 11 steps where errors could occur that would divorce the video from the right story and rundown. Avid, Schliefer says, solved such problems by integrating the newsroom computer system with the editing system, the playback server and the on-air control system.

Mike Cronk, vice president and general manager, server and digital news production, Thomson Grass Valley, agrees that asset management shouldn't be intrusive. When asset management is successful, he says, people won't even know they have it.

Like Avid, Thomson provides the hardware, software and networking components of a media workflow network. That includes attached storage, storage area networks, servers, newsroom computing systems, and digital news-acquisition and -production tools to deliver the most information, control and applications support possible.

"We've been able to greatly streamline newsroom workflow and ease viewing-room congestion," he says. "Journalists have a faster time-to-air window because they have easy access to assets in near-line and offline storage. It can even improve story quality."

It also makes it easier to share and approve content. Cronk notes that Thomson's Media Workflow solution can automatically create browse copies of completed edits for editorial review, and he points to the Grass Valley NewsBrowse system as an example of the company's efforts to improve digital-asset management.

"It lets users add wide-ranging descriptive information about media assets and features advanced-search technologies to quickly retrieve them," he says. "Text entered into the NewsBrowse system is indexed and searchable, and users can retrieve media from both online and offline media-storage systems."

The next wave in the broadcasting and professional markets, according to Pinnacle Systems Senior Vice President Bob Wilson, will be the linking of video and its associated data.

Pinnacle, he says, has a number of systems used by Time Warner Cable's 24-hour news operations, facilities that offer perfect examples of the challenges a news environment presents to DAM.