A vision for more efficient media management

Petit Press’ new open source, cloud-based DAM platform helps publishers get rich media content in front of their audience at pace and scale.

Picture the scene: You’re an investigative journalist that has just wrapped up a new piece of video content that offers incisive, timely commentary on a pressing issue of the day. Your editor wants to get the content in front of your audience as quickly as possible and you soon find yourself bogged down in a laborious, manual process of archiving and uploading files. A process that is subject to human error, and involves repeating the same tasks as you prepare the content for YouTube and embedding within an article.

With the development of a new open source digital asset management (DAM) system, Slovak publishing house, Petit Press, is hoping to help the wider publishing ecosystem overcome these types of challenges.

Striving towards a universal, open source solution

Like many publishers in today’s fast-paced, fast-changing news landscape, Petit Press was feeling the pressure to be more efficient and do more with less, while at the same time maximizing the amount of high-quality, rich media content its journalists could deliver. “We wanted to find a solution to two main asset delivery issues in particular,” says Ondrej Podstupka, deputy editor in chief of SME.sk. “Firstly, to reduce the volume of work involved in transferring files from our journalists to our admin teams to the various platforms and CMS we use. Secondly, to avoid the risk of misplacing archived files or losing them entirely in an archive built on legacy technologies.”

As a publisher of over 35 print and digital titles, including one of Slovakia’s most-visited news portal, SME.sk, Petit Press also had a first-hand understanding of how useful the solution might be if it could flex to the different publishing scales, schedules, and platforms found across the news industry. With encouragement and support from GNI, Petit Press challenged themselves to build an entirely open source, API-based DAM system that flexes beyond their own use cases and can be easily integrated with any CMS, which means that other publishers can adapt and add functionality with minimal development costs.

Getting out of the comfort zone to overcome complexity

For the publisher, creating an open source project requires collaboration, skill development, and a strong sense of purpose. GNI inspired our team members to work together in a positive, creative, and supportive environment. Crucial resources from GNI also enabled the team to broaden the scope of the project beyond Petit Press’ direct requirements to cover the edge use cases and automations that a truly open source piece of software requires.

“GNI has enabled our organization to make our code open source, helping to create a more collaborative and innovative environment in the media industry.” 
– Ondrej Podstupka, deputy editor in chief of SME.sk

Building and developing the tool was difficult at times with a team of software engineers, product managers, newsroom managers, UX designers, testers, and cloud engineers all coming together to see the project to completion. For a team not used to working on GitHub, the open source aspect of the project proved the primary challenge. The team, however, also worked to overcome everything from understanding the complexities of integrating a podcast feature, to creating an interface all users felt comfortable with, to ensuring compliance with YouTube’s security requirements.

Unburdening the newsroom and minimizing costs

The hard work paid off though, when the system initially launched in early 2023. Serving as a unified distribution platform, asset delivery service and long term archive, the single solution is already unburdening the newsroom. It also benefits the tech/admin teams, by addressing concerns about the long-term costs of various media storage services.

On Petit Press’ own platforms, the DAM system has already been successfully integrated into SME.sk’s user-generated content (UGC) blog. This integration allows for seamless content management and curation, enhancing the overall user experience. The system also makes regulatory compliance easier, thanks to its GDPR-compliant user deletion process.

In addition to the UGC Blog system, the DAM system has now launched for internal Petit Press users—specifically for managing video and podcast content, which has led to increased efficiency and organization within the team. By streamlining the video and podcast creation and distribution processes, Petit Press has already seen a 5-10% productivity boost. The new DAM system saves an estimated 15-20 minutes of admin time off every piece of video/podcast content Petit Press produces.

Working towards bigger-picture benefits

Zooming out, the DAM system is also playing a central part in Petit Press’ year-long, org-wide migration to the cloud. This transformation was set in motion to enhance infrastructure, streamline processes, and improve overall efficiency within the department.

Podstupka also illustrates how the system might benefit other publishers. “It could be used as an effective standalone, automated archive for videos and podcasts,” he says. For larger publishing houses, “if you use [the DAM system] to distribute videos to YouTube and archive podcasts, there is minimal traffic cost and very low storage cost. But you still have full control over the content in case you decide to switch to a new distribution platform or video hosting service.”

As the team at Petit Press continues to get to grips with the new system, there is a clear goal in mind: To have virtually zero administrative overhead related to audio or video.

Beyond the automation-powered efficiency savings, the team at Petit Press are also exploring the new monetisation opportunities that the DAM system presents. They are currently working on a way to automatically redistribute audio and image assets to their video hosting platform, to automatically create video from every podcast they produce. This video is then pushed to their CMS and optimized for monetisation on the site with very little additional development required.

Ultimately, though, the open source nature of the system makes the whole team excited to see where other publishers and developers might take the product. “It’s a futureproof way to leverage media content with new services, platforms and ideas that emerge in technology or media landscapes,” says Igor, Head Of Development & Infrastructure. A succinct, but undeniably compelling way of summing up the system’s wide-ranging potential.

A guest post by the Petit Press team