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Digital Transformation – The Seven Deadly Pitfalls.

desknet editorial days

The arguments for digital transformation are too forceful to ignore.  Most, if not all publishers agree that digital is the future, and that they must go that route… although if they’re honest their individual motivations span a spectrum that ranges from genuine enthusiasm to absolute terror.

Choosing the road to travel is only the beginning of the journey however, and the path to a successful digitally-focussed business is not a smooth one. Different companies have different cultures, different strengths, and different weaknesses and the transition to the new is often a voyage of discovery not only into the future but into the reality of their own inner workings.

Which is why we could all do with knowing about what pitfalls await us on the road ahead, and where the wheels are likely to come off.

Dr Dietmar Schantin

Dr Dietmar Schantin

Dr Dietmar Schantin has worked for the last ten years transforming 15 newsrooms around the world for such shining lights as Telegraph Media Group, Ringier Media Group, Archant Group, Associated News Media, Axel Springer, Styria Media Group, the Hindustan Times and New Zealand Media and Entertainment. This talk is the distillation of that decade of experience observing first hand where things go wrong for companies that have committed to the digital transition but now have to overcome the hurdles that present themselves.

In his own words; “it’s time to move the newsroom, the processes, the products and services on offer but also the management structure and advertising sales beyond print to firmly embrace digital.
News publishers can actively fight the crisis by taking strong, decisive measures to make their newsrooms more efficient. They must be reader-oriented and their advertising departments need to be more customer-oriented. While there are no “magic bullet” solutions, the way to go is to start planning and implementing the necessary changes.

I will be talking about the seven biggest potential pitfalls that occur on the way from a traditional to a digitally focussed company. I will explain the mistakes companies make in the change process and how they can be avoided. Transformation is not a simple project and stepping around the pitfalls can save a serious amount of time, money, and sheer frustration.”


Dr. Dietmar Schantin is known in the media industry as the innovator of a series of modern editorial and newsroom concepts around the world.
In March 2012 Dietmar founded the Institute for Media Strategies, an independent international research and consultancy organisation for the media industry with the focus on supporting the growth of and the design of sustainable business models for the press media. Currently he and his team are working with publishing houses in Europe, USA, Middle and Far East and Asia mainly on topics of multi-platform product development and product relaunch, paid content strategies and transformation management.


The next Desk-Net Editorial Days take place in Hamburg on June 9th and 10th 2015 and showcase some of the best examples of editorial management and planning from around the planet.

Attendance is by invitation – for more details mail us at;

Making money outside of the mainstream media

desknet editorial days

Question; What year did your newspaper launch its web site?

Before 2005? – most of the hands go up for that one.

Before 2000? – not quite so many positive answers.

Before 1995? Not so many news organisations had fully functioning sites in the early nineties, making ED (Eindhovens Dagblad) one of the first newspapers when it launched its site in 1994.

Since then it’s never relaxed the pace which means it has consistently been in the front line of change when it comes to newsroom management and cross-media. The newsroom, sales, and marketing departments were reorganised to sit side by side on the the same floor without walls. A journalist was appointed as journalistic entrepreneur. Reporters of this regional paper began blogging from Milan and Lyon as the local team, PSV, toured Europe. The aim was to give fans the feeling of being in the stadium. It also broke down the walls between print and online in the process.


ed logo

“Speed is critical and tight organisation has allowed the ED to get ahead of other media companies”, explains Fleur Besters. Fleur was a crime reporter for ten years at the ED before taking charge of cross media planning and digital news. She’s now an independent journalism entrepreneur and a speaker at the Desk-Net Editorial Days where she explains the secrets of success in innovative newsroom management. Or as she puts it;

“Waiting until the media storm passes is simply not an option. ED maintains its lead because news managers are trained to look forwards – thinking of the newspaper of the day after tomorrow. Reporters think fast and act quickly. The job of the news manager is to encourage them to anticipate because the days of ‘agenda’ journalism are gone.”


Fleur Besters - journalistic entrepreneur

Fleur Besters – journalistic entrepreneur


These days the PSV-watcher of the ED has more than 30,000 followers on Twitter and editorial posts on Facebook go viral and nationwide. The organisation of news has become more multi-channel, for words, images and video. Fleur explains her multidisciplinary approach to training across platforms and perhaps most importantly of all she explains how breaking down the walls and looking beyond traditional media mean opportunities for publishers to earn money from new revenue streams.

The next Desk-Net Editorial Days take place in Hamburg on June 9th and 10th 2015 and showcase some of the best examples of editorial management and planning from around the planet.

Attendance is by invitation – for more details mail us at;

From broadsheet to broadcast; How Helsingin Sanomat transformed from newspaper to Web TV Channel.


How would you cope if you were asked to create a news TV channel?

That’s exactly what Samuli Leivonniemi (@SLeivonniemi) was asked to do at Finland’s largest newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, and the resulting example of cross-media management is a far cry from the simple video links and YouTube channels you’ve probably seen from most newspapers.

One typical day for example recently started with a live event covering a government announcement, regular weather clips, a two minutes news broadcast, a football talk show, a fashion programme, 7 news shorts (all done in house) and a handful of foreign news clips edited from the Reuters feed. It’s all part of an amazing output that results in a million video views a week.

That’s enough to make most of us tired just thinking about it. When you consider the complexity and pressure of putting that together and running it smoothly, let alone ensuring enough advertising to make it profitable in its own right it is clear that some newsrooms have come a lot further than others.

Nor is Samuli working with a team of TV professionals. A journalist and news editor himself, he relies on his fellow journalists in the newsroom to create the content; “Basically everyone in the newsroom is involved” as he puts it.

Samuli Leivonniemi

Samuli Leivonniemi

“We have a video desk where we have a couple of professional videographers. All of our photographers shoot videos as well. We have a small reporter group that has especially been trained to do video reporting but most of the reporters in the newsroom can do video interviews. And then we currently have two so called multimedia reporters who can do the whole thing by themselves; shoot, report, edit, etc.”

If you think you have editorial management headaches imagine what Samuli faces every day. So how does he keep on top of that output, maintaining quality, scheduling, and ensuring that everyone does what is expected of them? Why not ask him?

You’re probably not about to be asked to put together a complete programming schedule fit for TV, but the chances are you’re increasingly being asked to incorporate video in your content and find more sophisticated ways of showcasing your efforts. So rather than starting from scratch why not find out how Samuli manages to keep all those plates spinning.

The next Desk-Net Editorial Days take place in Hamburg on June 9th and 10th 2015 and showcase some of the best examples of editorial management and planning from around the planet.

Attendance is by invitation – for more details mail us at;

New version out: Group assignment, performance, recurring absences

We have just released another version of Desk-Net (#72) and this is what’s new:

  • Multiple group assignment: Our new version allows you to assign stories and events to more than one group. For example, you can now assign a story to the “Editorial Department” and the “Online Department”.
    You will find the group menu top right on the entry mask.
  • Performance:The saving process for stories and events is much faster.
  • Recurring absences: Since a few weeks it is possible to add your weekly availability including recurring absences on the Settings page.
    Your recurring absences are not only automatically displayed on the Availability page, but also on the Dashboard page and on the Short-Term Calendar page.

For admins:

  • Temporary user accounts: The new Desk-Net version allows admins to determine an end date for a new user profile, when creating it. You are now able to set up an account for example for an intern and already define the end date.

We hope these changes make working with Desk-Net easier for you and welcome your feedback at

The Desk-Net team

New version out: French version, No Status, improved usability

We have just released a new version of Desk-Net (version #71, actually…) and this is what’s new:

  • Desk-Net en français: Our new version allows you to use Desk-Net not only in English and German, but in French as well.
    You can find the language settings on the Settings page.
  • New status “No Status”: In the past it has been mandatory to select a status such as “Accepted” for every story. This requirement is being dropped. The new version allows you to select “No Status”.
    On one hand, this gives you more options to work with the different status levels while on the other hand, using “No Status” cleans up your story lists since no status icon will be displayed.
    The setting “No Status” has been preselected once for every user after the release.

We have made three changes to the popular page “My Schedule”:

  • New layout: The page has been slightly redesigned to improve the page’s user-friendliness.
  • New task indicator: You find newly assigned tasks to be marked once with the label New. This label is not displayed for tasks the user enters himself.
  • Display of main appointment: A user like a photographer can be assigned to an appointment that is independent of the main appointment. In the new version the user is able to see not just his special appointment, but also the main appointment. Please select “Show details” in the page settings to activate this setting.

And we have implemented multiple minor changes to improve Desk-Net’s user-friendliness:

  • Aggregated lists sorted by status: Some list such as the Long-term Planning can be sorted by status. A story scheduled for publication on multiple platforms on the same day would have showed up as many times in the list. In the new version these story lists are consolidated and every story is displayed just once per day.
  • Improved invitation emails: The invitation emails for new users feature a more pleasant design.
  • Publication platform default setting: In the past there were situations where no platform was preselected for a story. New users sometimes got confused by this. A new logic does prevent this from happening. There is always a platform preselected.
  • Date format in notification emails: We have changed the date format in the notification emails to feature the weekday (e.g. “Fri, 18 November”) in order to increase the email’s readability.
  • Helpful hints for new users: On almost every page new users will see a hint explaining the purpose of the page.
    Those helpful messages can be hidden by clicking on a link. However, after the third visit to the page they will disappear automatically.
  • Improved Fast Entry box: The Fast Entry was slightly modified to improve its usability.

We hope these changes make working with Desk-Net even easier for you and we welcome your feedback at

The Desk-Net Team

New version out: Weekly availability, new navigation, better notes

We have just released another version of Desk-Net (version #70, actually…) and this is what’s new:

  • New navigation: The navigation has been adjusted just a little, but clearly noticable: The Inbox is now located under Management. The pages Calendar and Story Lists have switched places.2014-12-16_153211
  • Weekly availability: Many of our users are working part-time. Our new version makes it possible to select your regular working days on the Settings page.
    Your recurring attendances and absences are automatically displayed on the Availability page.

Major changes to the Notes feature:

  • Notes per issue: In the past it has only been possible to assign notes to a date, but now you can assign notes to an issue. Such a note is displayed on the Dashboard page and on the Short-term Planning.

  • Attachments for notes: It is now possible to attach one or more files to a note.
  • Notes for multiple groups: Notes with a date can now be assigned to multiple groups – not just one.
    This works even across multiple Desk-Net accounts if you are a user with access to more than one account.

Besides those major changes we have implemented multiple minor improvements:

  • Publication platforms without categories: From now on you can assign a story directly to a platform without having to pick a category. This makes it possible to set up simple platforms like “Newsletter” or “Facebook”.
  • Deletion confirmation: By popular demand we have (again) implemented a deletion conformation layer when you delete a story. This will prevent the accidental deletion of an entry.
  • Content tab – saving in draft status: We cleaned up the content tab to make space for new features.
    The saving of content in draft status is centralized. Instead of being on the right the new feature is placed above the save button.
  • Improved Availability page: The Availability page has a legend now to explain the colour codes. You can also find the absence notes in the contextual layers.
  • Timeline – new column: We have added a separate column on the Timeline page. It tells if an entry is a story, an appointment, a deadline etc. to make
    the page far more readable.timeline engl
  • IP access restriction – add an exception: You can restrict the access to Desk-Net so that access is only granted from within your corporate network.
    Now it is possible to add an exception to this rule for individual users (this setting can be set in the user profile).
  • Bigger file attachments: You can now upload files of up to 90MB (previously 70MB). We are planning to increase this limit further.

We hope these changes make working with Desk-Net easier for you and welcome your feedback at

The Desk-Net team

New version out: Design refresh, iPad optimisations and more

We have just released another version of Desk-Net (version #68, actually…) and this is what’s new:

  • Design refresh: We have continuously updated many design elements of Desk-Net over the years.Now it is time for a modern design of the header and navigation area as well as some other elements such as the buttons.New vs. old header designAs you can see from the before/after picture we have managed to decrease the header’s height.You will also notice that the new designs succeeds in better guiding the users to the important header elements.
  • Touch optimisations: As part of the design refresh we have also added some optimisations for users of touch devices such as an iPad.Menu items and other touch elements are now further apart reducing the risk of accidental deletions or other incorrect actions.
  • Reporting: Users working in departments of communications or PR agencies have asked us many times for a reporting feature. Read more…

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