The Washington Post Is A Software Company Now
The newspaper created a platform to tackle its own challenges. Then, with Amazon-like spirit, it realized there was a business in helping other publishers do the same.
Since 2014, a new Post operation now called Arc Publishing has offered the publishing system the company originally used for WashingtonPost.com as a service. That allows other news organizations to use the Post’s tools for writers and editors. Arc also shoulders the responsibility of ensuring that readers get a snappy, reliable experience when they visit a site on a PC or mobile device. It’s like a high-end version of Squarespace or WordPress.com, tailored to solve the content problems of a particular industry.
Among the publications that have moved to Arc are the Los Angeles Times, Canada’s Globe and Mail, the New Zealand Herald, and smaller outfits such as Alaska Dispatch News and Oregon’s Willamette Week. In aggregate, sites running on Arc reach 300 million readers; publishers pay based on bandwidth, which means that the more successful they are at attracting readers, the better it is for Arc Publishing. The typical bottom line ranges from $10,000 a month at the low end up to $150,000 a month for Arc’s biggest customers.
The Washington Post doesn’t disclose Arc Publishing’s revenue or whether it’s currently profitable. (The Post itself turned a profit in 2016.) It does say, however, that Arc’s revenue doubled year-over-year and the goal is to double it again in 2018. According to Post CIO Shailesh Prakash, the company sees the platform as something that could eventually become a $100 million business.
L’intérêt de mélanger développeurs et usagers
Back at Post headquarters in Washington, D.C., “because the technologists and the reporters and editors are often sitting alongside each other, sometimes we can get away with a less formal process to identify needs,” explains Gilbert. “A technologist can see when a reporter or editor is having trouble with something, and so sometimes it doesn’t have to be ‘file a ticket,’ ‘file a complaint,’ ‘send an email to an anonymous location.’” For instance, when editorial staffers wondered if it was possible for the Post site to preview videos with a moving clip rather than a still photo, a video developer quickly built a tool to allow editors to create snippets. “We see a much higher click-through rate when people use these animated GIFs than when they used the static images from before,” Gilbert says.