Installing a complete newsroom remotely in a pandemic

Production, Nxtedition

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Production automation specialists nxtedition recently installed, commissioned, trained and handed over a four-studio newsroom system for Stockholm-based Expressen TV. Because of the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, nxtedition was forced to achieve all this remotely, yet still got the new system on-air, on-time and on-budget.

nxtedition’s newsroom system is built on a suite of microservices to create a virtualised architecture, running on COTS hardware. For Expressen TV, the system was initially built at nxtedition’s headquarters in Malmö, more than 600km away. The kit was shipped to Stockholm where Expressen’s partners installed it in place.

Ordinarily, teams would be sent from nxtedition to test and commission a new installation and train the staff. But the microservices architecture means that the system is inherently ready for remote access and operation, so all these activities were carried out from the homes of each nxtedition team member. Deployments and configurations were performed remotely, and all the training was done using Google Hangouts, with the trainer logging into the Expressen installation remotely via VPN.

Journalists, editors, producers and engineers rapidly gained familiarisation with nxtedition's intuitive operation. This allowed for a phased cutover to the new technology and also to effectively meet the full on-air date of 2nd June 2020. Even with Sweden’s relatively light touch isolation policy, this was still a remarkable achievement while maintaining safety of both teams through remote working practices and social distancing.

“I am really impressed that we could make this transition so easily and fast,” said Robin Jansson, head of technology for Expressen TV. “Our window of opportunity to switch the entire broadcast system was very slim, but the design and structure of nxtedition makes complex and time-consuming things much easier and convenient.”

For nxtedition, Roger Persson, head of sales and marketing, added, “The world is changing, and not just because of COVID-19. Newsroom technology has to be flexible, capable of being accessed from anywhere, to deliver the fast and accurate facts first which audiences seek. Remote training was forced upon us by the pandemic, but it really brought home to the Expressen TV team just how simple it is to create scripts, modify rundowns, cue events and add live content from anywhere at any time. That agility was a key benefit when Expressen TV chose our suite of software and in today’s environment we can see it’s even more important than ever.”

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