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How Media Development Makes Us More Innovative

Sourcefabric was founded with a mission to close the digital gap between well-funded media organisations and independent news outlets that may not be in a favourable financial position yet still play a vital role in civic society. In order to fulfil that mission, we partner with independent media working in local markets around the world so as to understand what their needs are in terms of tools and software.

This not only ensures that our solutions are relevant to the challenges of publishers in their day-to-day operations, but also results in a higher level of innovation in our technology that makes it forward-looking and useful for the news community as a whole.

Here are three concrete examples of how media development projects have improved our products and services:

1. Airtime Pro gets on users' wavelength through microwav.fm

Before embarking on this project, we didn’t have much insight into how different users were actually utilizing Airtime Pro. But once we got into the nuts and bolts of building microwav.fm, a network of individual radio stations operated by young people in the South Caucasus, we learned a great deal about what they and their audiences wanted to do. “It was very enriching for us and the work of the team,” said Veronika Divisova, head of strategic partnerships at Sourcefabric.

Version 2.0 of the Radio Page

The most significant innovation that came about was the creation of the Radio Page in Airtime Pro. The Radio Page functions like a microsite for individual stations, with information about the station and a mobile-friendly format that lets audiences listen in on any device. The Radio Page is also an important interactive tool that allows individual tracks and even the station’s player widget to be shared in social media.

Several other key improvements made to Airtime Pro over the course of the project included:

* Integration with Soundcloud and TuneIn, which helps stations connect with listeners and provide on-demand content.
* One-click creation of podcasts, a substantial simplification that allows broadcasters to take advantage of an additional on-demand format.
* RSS feed sharing to let individual stations share and exchange their music, news and other programming, providing additional sources of content to add variety and help fill in their broadcasting schedules.

2. Newscoop pivots to video in Azerbaijan  

In a separate project in the Caucasus, our local media partners needed a way to incorporate video as a form of content handled by Newscoop. This was important because independent media in Azerbaijan had to have their own broadcast content in order to provide a counterweight to state-controlled television. 

The template we developed allowed video to be the primary form of content managed by Newscoop, in addition to text and photos.  

The video template in action

Meydan TV, an independent Azerbaijani news outlet which now broadcasts from Berlin, was the first client of ours to use the video template; other Azerbaijani news outlets used it too. The template remains part of the code for Newscoop which we handed over to the open-source community when we ceased active development and maintenance of our original open-source news CMS in late 2017.

3. Superdesk powers digital publishing through WordPress in Zimbabwe

Connecting Superdesk to other content management systems was something we had discussed internally at Sourcefabric for some time, but this project with The European Journalism Centre and financial news outlet The Source made it a reality. It made sense to start with WordPress since it is one of the most-used solutions for digital publishing on the web.

The Superdesk WordPress plugin

Superdesk provides WordPress with an authoring environment in line with the needs of professional news outlets, from classifying content to setting up and managing the contributions of a team of writers. All of those features were needed by The Source, a startup business news site with a small editorial staff and a large network of freelance writers. After going live with the Superdesk plugin, The Source was able to boost its production of news significantly, from 5-10 articles per day to 20-25 per day. And the plugin itself remains available and free to use for other news publishers on GitHub.

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