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Online Production & Publishing

Today, there are literally hundreds of applications - on-line and off-line - for producing effective newsletters, news bulletins and news services  - whatever your industry and whatever your interests. For the ENAWU project so far, this has been very much based around producing the core 'product' that ENAWU was first conceived for - the Arab West Report.  Although there is a system in place, our goal is to further develop this and to improve not only how we produce the items of news that will be of interest to ENAWU partners, but also how we publish it to the world.


A little background ...

The publishing system currently being used by Arab West Report is a relatively simple (but hand coded and manually administered) content management system.  It was designed and developed by a service provider in Egypt that - for very sad reasons - went out of business before it was completely developed.  Thankfully our IT team in Cairo and our IT consultant in Germany are getting it back on track.

Production takes place using basic word processing (we are using Open Office).  Texts are first translated from Arabic into English, then they are edited by native English speakers.  Once the week's articles are completed the texts are individually uploaded to our SQL database - and then the links to these items are cut and pasted into emails to our subscribers - some want just the links, others want the full texts.  One of our biggest problems is that we do not have an efficient CRM system integrated into the process, and so staying on track with subscribers, their needs, etc is (as you may imagine) a nightmare. 

What we want... 

With very limited resources (financial and human) we can no longer continue with the current system.  It is inefficient, time consuming and - in the 21st Century - simple too manual.  Our aim is to put in place:

  • On-line production with direct input of texts (English, Arabic, Dutch, German - whatever), with online input of categories, indexation, keywords and metadata that match our new index.

  • Subsequently on-line editing by our editorial team and approval from the Editor-in-Chief.

  • On-line compilation of each weekly digest - in fact with the right system articles will be published online as soon as they are edited and approved - but compiling the weekly summary automatically will be a huge improvement.

  • A CRM system through which subscribers can not only manage their subscription and information, but also choose what topics they want to receive news about, whether they want the digest or full text, etc.

Ideally, with the right system in place, the ENAWU project webpages - with their (hopefully) regular flow of new content and contributions from ENAWU partners - will be integrated into one website, content management and customer (user) relationship management system.  Are we aiming to high? Smile

Possible Applications

As you can see, the ENAWU website has been built using Joomla .  This is a terrific system with thousands of resources, a vibrant developer community and great potential - and all free!  There are modules that do much of what we want to do now and in the future. We have also been fortunate to have the services of Road 9 Media in Cairo, who have not only given this site a fresh new look, but also helped us with a number of technical issues we have encountered.

However, because we consider ourselves basically a 'news provider' - and we want ENAWU to be a source of news items contributed from our partners as well - there are some applications that have been developed for these specific needs. One we continue to look closely at is Campsite , an open source application with over 70 organisations using it to publish multi-lingual news etc.  It has many of the functions that we want and remains potentially an excellent resource. 

Working with PSUT

However, we do not think that we can solve this by ourselves and so we are grateful for several organisations coming forward to offer assistance. We are in the early stages of discussions with Princess Sumaya University of Technology in Amman, Jordan with whom we hope to sign an MoU for collaboration on researching possible alternatives, implementing our unique indexing and search requirements as well as re-engineering our production and publishing systems. We will update you on our progress (if you sign up for our newsletter !) in the near future.

If you or your organisation are not only sympathetic to the ENAWU vision, but also have experiences (good and bad) or expertise to share , please contact us or take a few minutes to contribute to the forum discussions.

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