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Powering multi-lingual magazines in war zones

Using Newscoop as the same CMS and backend for all three sites helped us to improve our editorial workflows, making it easier for our editors to switch between projects. Christine Liehr, Project Manager, MiCT

Media in Cooperation and Transition is a German NGO delivering media projects in crisis regions. At MiCT headquarters in Berlin, a team of more than 20 staff coordinates activities in 15 different countries. Through its activities, MiCT aims to foster the transformation of conflict towards reconciliation, and encourage dialogue among factions within society. Supporting media cooperation, media networking, media development and capacity building in the field of journalism is recognised as key factors in conflict transition.   

The challenge

MiCT’s team provides training for inspired journalists in several countries devastated by war in recent years. “Niqash” is a tri-lingual magazine, published in Arabic, English and Kurdish. Both the Kurdish and Arabic editors, and many of the contributors, work in Baghdad or the Kurdish Autonomous Region in Northern Iraq. “Afghanistan Today” is Niqash’s sister site, and before Sourcefabric became involved it was published in English only. “The Niles” is published in English and Arabic, covering Sudan and South Sudan.

Multi-linguality is something Newscoop handles easily, an area where many other content management systems struggle. In spite of our multilingual software capabilities, implementing a project with content in languages that the Newscoop team couldn't read was tricky.

Photo by Media in Cooperation and Transition

Photo by Media in Cooperation and Transition

The solution

Niquash’s local editors have been working with Newscoop for several months after being trained by editorial head Cathrin Schaer. They have contributed hundreds of articles since. “It is in general a good website, especially in terms of software”, Zanko Ahmad, an editor based in Kurdistan concludes, after the switch from a proprietary system.

Newscoop delivered the technical capability for “Afghanistan Today” to start publishing news in Afghanistan’s two official languages, Dari (a branch of the Western Iranian languages, similar to Persian and Kurdish) and Pashto (an Eastern Iranian language), as well as English. One special challenge was that Afghanistan and Iran both use the solar Hijri calendar, not typically supported by web software. Fortunately, Newscoop is highly modular, and we are keen to develop a plugin with MiCT to support publishing articles based on this calendar.

Photo by Media in Cooperation and Transition

Photo by Media in Cooperation and Transition

Individual Newscoop themes for the three MiCT sites created by Sourcefabric designers were localised using the Transifex platform, which enabled local journalists to translate and correct the multilingual strings for their own web pages. Transifex has also been used to translate the administration interface of Newscoop into Arabic.

Results

What might have sounded like a quick implementation project became an intensive year-long partnership between MiCT and Sourcefabric which successfully launched three multi-lingual news websites in some of the most difficult and dangerous environments for journalism.

By unifying the CMS software of those three sites using Newscoop, MiCT took a big step towards improving their editorial workflow. Now it is easier for their project teams to cooperate and to implement new formats and features, enabling continuous enhancement of the news sites. 

See the results for yourself at NiqashAfghanistan Today and The Niles.

(Cover photo was taken in MiCT's printing house in South Sudan where The Niles magazine is printed. Photo by: Dominik Lehnert)

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