In the news: Sourcefabric speaks to the future of journalism tech
Anna Rohleder, Sourcefabric’s communications director, was recently interviewed by Kobinet-Nachrichten, a German daily news service that focuses on issues of disability. She discussed our role supporting news-technology development and the future of open-source software. The interview was conducted in German (available here); below is an English translation.
For some years now, Kobinet-Nachrichten have been cooperating with Sourcefabric, a nonprofit open-source software developer that offers tools for media work, including the Superdesk newsroom system. Following a meeting in Berlin, Ottmar Miles-Paul conducted an interview with Anna Rohleder, who is Head of Communications at Sourcefabric and is based in Prague, about the challenges and opportunities of future media work and the associated technical requirements.
Kobinet-Nachrichten: Today an efficient and modern editorial system has become critical for any online news service. What developments do you see in this area?
Anna Rohleder: Despite increasing cost and performance pressures, media are still being asked to create a higher proportion of added value, albeit with shrinking resources. At the moment there is often talk of artificial intelligence (AI) - as if only a completely kind of intelligence could find a way out of this impossible situation. But in our experience, media organisations are more concerned with managing the complexity of their environment than just producing a lot of content. This complexity is particularly problematic at two points: first, where news sources are ingested and second, where the content is output again. You have to be able to bring everything together in the most literal sense; and ideally from a single point of control, where you can keep an overview of everything that is going in and out.
Technically, this is called multi-tenancy. To meet the challenge of multi-tenancy at Sourcefabric, we developed our Superdesk Publisher. It works both as a digital dashboard and as a kind of templating engine, where you can redesign your website again and again, even without special IT knowledge, simply drag-and-drop as you’re used to doing on the web.
Kobinet-Nachrichten: Smaller organisations and non-profits are making a difference today. What support does Sourcefabric offer in this area?
Anna Rohleder: As Sourcefabric z.ú. is itself a non-profit organisation, it is very important to us to support other non-profit organisations in the media sector. Our aim is to give small and independent media the technical resources they need to keep up in today's competitive environment. We primarily develop open-source solutions that any media organisation can download and use free of charge, from a large editorial system such as Superdesk to a standalone tool such as Live Blog. In addition, we offer support in the form of training or consulting, especially when it comes to the digital transformation of a media organisation.
Kobinet-Nachrichten: If you look 10 years ahead, what developments do you see in the area in which you are active?
Anna Rohleder: Using sophisticated algorithms based on big data, the news we see will be increasingly tailored to our personal interests and desires. In my opinion, this is the next phase in the evolution of the media in our time, from a means of mass communication to a carrier of group identity. On the other hand, I hope that new forms of cooperation will establish themselves in the long term among the media. The era of competition is over; in the future, individual media will have to see themselves as part of a whole that will only be effective if all its members are thriving.
Kobinet-Nachrichten: What are your hopes for Sourcefabric in the future?
Anna Rohleder: For me, we will be successful if we can make a contribution to the sustainability of the media as a whole. And I hope that we will continue to pay special attention to strengthening those voices that are otherwise sidelined in our society, such as communicating the perspective of people with disabilities, which Kobinet-Nachrichten does so well.