SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Zakia Bouachraoui, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Roger Strukhoff, David Linthicum

Related Topics: Agile Computing

Agile Computing: Blog Post

What's the Disaster Recovery Plan for our Nations Newspapers?

Declining Circulation and Advertising Isn't the Only Problem for Newspapers

With print advertising declining due to the use of the internet as the primary source of information today, what is the disaster recovery plan of our nation’s newspaper industry? More and more newspapers are facing the challenge of declining advertising revenue and are looking for ways to offset these costs.

The Boston Globe recently wrote an editorial column asking their readers, since they already pay about $10 dollars a week for delivery, if they would be willing to pay $10 a week for reading the paper on their website. The answer unfortunately is no. As creatures of habit we have been accustomed to walking out to the end of the drive way picking up our paper, waving to the neighbors and sitting down with a strong cup of coffee to start our day.

There is something about having the paper in your hand and folding the pages just right so you can read the article of interest and then continue reading in the bathroom, taking it to the gym or just reading in our favorite chair in the comfort of our homes. Most of us who spend much of the day on computers or internet every day like to detach the power of the internet for something more simplistic like a newspaper.

As blogging, twittering and other social media sites grow as a primary source of news, can we police our selves to deliver accurate content? Twitter was a great example of this when it was reported on Twitter that the Maersk Captain Richard Phillips had been released and was safe. This came approximately two hours before any media outlet carried the announcement, as a few hours later CNN confirmed and authenticated the report and then went on the air to announce.

When the integrity and security of information matters, newspapers have always been at the forefront with respected publications like the Boston Globe, New York Times, and Chicago Tribune. A few years ago the Tribune Company had the foresight to consolidate and protect their data centers and communication infrastructure to ensure they could continue to deliver quality news that reaches upwards of 80% of households in the United States.

With any disaster and interruption to production activity there is always a significant cost associated with that downtime. Here is a great case study of how the Tribune Company helped reduce the costs of maintaining their infrastructure while simultaneously keeping it highly available to ensure the delivery of the editorial content. But, more important was their ability to consolidate and standardize their communication platform for internal communications.

 Delivering the content for a publication is only one part of process. Being able to communicate rapidly between editors, sources and other new professionals to develop the article is a necessary component to creating the news content. The Tribune was able to do this by consolidating different messaging platforms, like Novell GroupWise® and Lotus Notes® down to a several strategically placed Microsoft® Exchange clusters. This not only helped the company standardize on a single messaging platform but also help consolidate the existing infrastructure down to a more management and highly available solution.

Years ago many publishers began adopting technology to assist with improving the publishing and editorial process with content management systems that allowed them to easily repurpose the content directly to the web. It was at this time that protecting the publishing IT infrastructure became more important to just creating the content for the print publication. As data centers continued to grow and web content continued to be more accessible there was an even more focus on engaging the web as a method for delivering the publication content and an ever growing need to keep the internal web infrastructure highly available.

But generating revenue from the web content was elusive and remains so today. The Boston Globe recently reported that several years ago they had a meeting with the founder of Monster.com and didn’t quite see the value and passed on the opportunity to form a partnership. Hind sight is twenty/twenty but clearly a decision that had a lasting effect as Monster went on to thrive beyond the dot.com era. That type of reluctance to engage in new methods for delivering information is probably a thing of the past as news industries are rapidly adopting twitter and engaging in anything that will allow them to distribute the news as real-time as possible.

This goes back to the initial question “what is the disaster recovery plan for the news industry?” Twitter has been known to have frequent intermittency and could use a disaster recovery plan for their Cloud infrastructure to keep their application highly available. Cloud architecture is still in progress and gets better each day but really only addresses the moving of workloads between other server farms within the same data center.

I have yet to see a solution for a Cloud infrastructure that allows entire data center workloads to be easily moved over any distance to avoid some event like a regional power failure or a fire. Protecting the Cloud and the Dynamic Infrastructure is going to require more than just being able to recover a virtual machine. It needs to be flexible and dynamic so any workload if not an entire data center workloads can be moved in real-time with minimal impact to the users of the cloud applications.

As, many news organizations have taken steps to help improve business continuity there are still risks being faced which wouldn’t typically be addressed in an initial business continuity risk assessment. The issue and risk that new organizations still face is the declining revenue for print advertising, a reduction in subscribers who are receiving their information from other media sources and just general operational costs of creating and delivering daily content.

Beyond the initial issue of cost containment there is the larger issue of ethical and integrity in news reporting if it is being delivered by some other media outlet that may be more interested in relating the news than actually reporting the facts and delivering. The concern then becomes the risk of panic or reactionary responses because the information has been passed along and spreads faster than retracting or vetting the content of the editorial source. This could be the next big risk our nation faces if inaccurate content is delivered before anyone asks if it should.

More Stories By Brace Rennels

Brace Rennels is a passionate and experienced interactive marketing professional who thrives on building high energy marketing teams to drive global web strategies, SEO, social media and online PR web marketing. Recognized as an early adopter of technology and applying new techniques to innovative creative marketing, drive brand awareness, lead generation and revenue. As a Sr. Manager Global of Website Strategies his responsibilities included developing and launching global social media, SEO and web marketing initiatives and strategy. Recognized for applying innovative solutions to address unique problems and manage business relationships to effectively accomplish enterprise objectives. An accomplished writer, blogger and author for several publications on various marketing, social media and technical subjects such as industry trends, cloud computing, virtualization, website marketing, disaster recovery and business continuity. Publications include CIO.com, Enterprise Storage Journal, TechNewsWorld, Sys-Con, eWeek and Peer to Peer Magazine. Follow more of Brace's writing on his blog: http://bracerennels.com

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