What we wanted was a system where existing crews on the ground can focus on acquisition, and then quickly push that content somewhere where other people can deal with it. The more time we can give people on the ground to do their job of actually acquiring the content – and the more of that bureaucracy that we can do elsewhere – the better the content will be.
Rob Lang, Global Production Editor, Thomson Reuters
In common with many large media organisations, Reuters has faced the challenges of connecting effectively siloed production resources and systems across its bureaus worldwide. Aside from the obvious costs and complexity of building and maintaining disparate systems, this fragmentation of resources can cause bottlenecks for dispersed journalists and production teams wishing to access and share content.
“News production in the past has often been quite siloed” notes Rob Lang, Global Production Editor at Thomson Reuters. “You have a team in a bureau with the infrastructure around them, producing content and then sending that content into the centre. For instance, there might be an event happening in the US, but we want to create an Arabic language package around that. Previously we’d produce the content in the States and send it to the centre. From there it would be pulled by our Arabic language production team in Cairo who could work on it.”
As Rob notes, a fundamental issue for Reuters was the ability to move resources quickly to cover a large breaking news story. “Obviously we would try and get as many journalists to cover an event as we could, but sometimes it’s not so easy to get people in. So what we wanted was a system where existing crews on the ground can focus on acquisition, and then quickly push that content somewhere where other people can deal with it.
“There’s a certain bureaucracy around newsgathering” observes Rob. “We have to create metadata, we have to create scripts, we have to do verification and so on. We wanted to move away from the idea of having satellites and a centre to create a kind of global newsroom. This would allow content to be created by our journalists and then for journalists in other locations to pull that content and do what they want with it.”
We wanted to create a unified system so that anybody working anywhere in the world could go anywhere else and just pick up and understand what to do. We had a thorough look at the market. We came to Sony and had some very interesting conversations. It was clear from the outset that they wanted to collaborate with us to help bring our ideas to fruition.
“The goal is always getting content from the camera to the client” states Rob. “So what we wanted was a solution where once the content’s been shot it’s immediately available for everyone who needs it to start working on it straight away – and that’s why we went for a cloud-based production system.”
“In the video department we’re producing around 200 distinct edits every day” continues Rob. “Previously we had lots of different systems, so we had different editing systems in different bureaus. They weren’t the same – sometimes we weren’t even using the same NLE. What we wanted to do is create a unified system so that anybody working anywhere in the world could go anywhere else and just pick up and understand what to do. And by creating a system that allows that content to move very quickly to people who could publish it we could give our people on the ground much more time to work on the stories there rather than on the production which could take place anywhere.”
As Rob explains, Reuters was keen to identify the right technology partner to help realise its vision for a totally cloud-based production system: “We had a thorough look at the market. We came to Sony and had some very interesting conversations. It was clear from the outset that they wanted to collaborate with us to help bring our ideas to fruition.” The solution implemented by Reuters centres on Hive, Sony’s award-winning news production platform that can be hosted natively in the cloud, on-premise or any combination of the two. Deployed on Reuter’s AWS platform, Hive allows journalists in the field to create stories from anywhere in the world via Adobe Premiere, seamlessly combining local material on their own laptops with centrally stored content.
“I think the key technical element that proved successful was the ability to take a proxy stream from the cloud into the NLE and actually work with that to edit it” Rob observes. “We’ve worked very closely with Sony to make this work to our quite exacting standards. We can now pull a proxy off, scrub it and edit it exactly how we want. And I think we were incredibly pleased when that idea – that had started probably four or five years ago – finally came to fruition.”
What Hive allowed us to do in the Covid situation was immediately move our production from offices to people’s homes. That was a massive benefit to us. We wanted to try and move out of the office and not change the quality or quantity of our content – and that’s exactly what we’ve been able to do as a consequence of using Hive.
2020’s global pandemic has thrown up formidable obstacles for most media organisations. Deploying Hive, however, has given Reuters a timely opportunity to reinvent working practices and maintain the quality of service it’s trusted for.
“What Hive allowed us to do in the Covid situation was immediately move our production from offices to people’s homes” says Rob. “That was a massive benefit to us. We didn’t need to look at people’s Internet connectivity, for example. You can do it on a low bandwidth connection, and we were able very quickly to continue producing content without being in the office. No client noticed because the speed of delivery didn’t change. That was the fundamental thing that we wanted to do. We wanted to try and move out of the office and not change the quality or quantity of our content – and that’s exactly what we’ve been able to do as a consequence of using Hive.”