ISYS is behind the news at APN
Gone are the days when journalists
would tap away at typewriters, when page layouts were done by hand and
when newspapers were only sold on paper. Technology has had an enormous
impact on the news industry - many news agencies are increasingly using
electronic media to gather, research and distribute news. Australia's
APN News & Media is one such company, and its Newspaper Division
has discovered the information management capabilities of ISYS.
APN, or Australian Provincial Newspapers,
is a media company that consists of three divisions - Newspaper, Outdoor
Advertising and Radio. The Newspaper division publishes more than 65
titles in northern New South Wales and south and central Queensland.
David Slyderink is the IT manager for APN North, which covers seven
titles in Queensland. He was involved in the implementation of ISYS:web
for APN subsidiary Capricornia Newspapers 18 months ago.
"Since 1995 our news pages have
been made entirely on-screen, and for the last two years we have been
capturing completed digital newspaper pages in PDF format," says
Slyderink. "The next logical progression was to allow the newsroom
staff to search the contents of these PDFs for specific material. The
potential as a research tool was enormous. ISYS came to mind as it was
an extremely effective product used nearly a decade ago by our sister
site, Toowoomba Newspapers. We heard that ISYS had made an ISYS product
for web, and the rest is history."
Capricornia Newspapers has more than
42,000 PDF files indexed, covering several years' worth of newspaper
articles, and taking up almost 18 gigabytes of storage space on the
file server. By accessing the information contained in these files via
ISYS, journalists get much faster results than if they were searching
and loading native PDF files. This is particularly useful when searching
over a slow or remote connection.
Prior to using ISYS, newspaper articles were cut and filed manually
in folders and filing cabinets by an editorial secretary, who would
categorize articles based on prominent keywords gleaned from each article.
This took a couple of hours each day, and searching for information
would only return accurate results if the appropriate keywords were
used, or a lot of patience and persistence were involved.
"The beauty of ISYS," says
Slyderink, "is that even the most obscure word will return a hit
if it exists on a page - and fast!"
Around 30 users access Capricornia's
ISYS index from six newspaper offices around central Queensland. Staff
members use ISYS for many different reasons. For example, a reporter
might be writing an article about crime in Rockhampton, and want to
find all the recent articles pertaining to theft, burglary and murder
in the area.
The flexibility of some ISYS features
has proved a bonus for Capricornia's users. The ISYS Word Wheel, for
instance, will help users to locate information within an index, even
if search terms are spelt incorrectly. Says Slyderink, "We find
the system particularly useful for locating documents that contain a
person's name - the Word Wheel facility can come in particularly handy
for some of the more difficult names in existence!"
Other APN companies are also exploring
the benefits of ISYS search software. Sunshine Coast Newspapers, another
APN subsidiary, implemented ISYS:web 12 months ago. The newspaper group
uses ISYS to archive and search material from eight different publications.
In Lismore, on New South Wales' north coast, Northern Star Newspapers
is planning to implement ISYS:web for around 20 users in the next few
Further on the horizon, Capricornia
Newspapers is exploring the possibility of expanding its system to enable
a search portal for registered Internet users. This would make previously
published newspaper information available in a searchable format, online
to the public. Similarly, the Rockhampton City Library has expressed
an interest in allowing the public to view and search newspaper pages
digitally using ISYS, rather than tediously perusing reels of microfiche.