Case Study: Page (1) of 1 - 09/13/06 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

CBS News EOS.Web Media

by Guy St. Clair, Consulting Specialist for Knowledge Services at SMR International

Background. CBS News Archives is the collection of moving images captured in the process of reporting news. The operation (under the direction of Dan DiPierro, Executive Director, CBS News; Garrett Johnson, Systems Engineer/News Archives; and Archives Manager Roy Carubia) involves the collection, processing, distribution, and re-shelving of some 2,500 3,000 media products per week. Carubia, DiPierro, and Johnson were interviewed for this case study. 

The collection was described in a recent news release as ?a virtual video history of the world from the mid-20th Century on. It came about, according to a newspaper article published in 1998, when reporter Edward R. Murrow and producer Fred Friendly convinced CBS News management in 1954 that ?it would be economical if CBS reused news film instead of discarding it after each program aired. The collection has been described as containing ?millions of feet of film and over 2 million videocassettes. Obviously storage is a problem, so as video began to be used to replace film, a computer database was installed to monitor the cassettes and film reels. 

Users of the collection are CBS News researchers (about 200 people) and internal archives staff (28 FTE), as well as external clients. As a news operation support facility, speed is of the essence, and researchers from CBS News production offices working with breaking news stories can require (and often do require) immediate turnaround delivery of media products. Archives materials are also used for background information for news stories and documentaries prepared over a longer period of time. In any case, turnaround time is expected to be no more than 24 hours, and staff workflow must accommodate that schedule. Service is provided on a 24/7 basis. 

Some archives materials are offered to the larger public through an arrangement with BBC, positioning the archives as a revenue source for the company when used by other television and film producers. Prior to the collaboration with BBC, external sales had been a small part of the archives function, but in the five years that BBC has been representing global sales for CBS News Archives, that picture has changed. A new commercial use of the archives will be implemented through an arrangement with Amazon, announced on July 14, in which members of the general public will be able to create customized DVDs of selected material from the archives (


Challenge. For CBS News Archives, the challenge was to replace the legacy system with a web-based solution that would have all the elements of the highest-level integrated library system (ILS) but which would not be structured for a print-type collection usually found in libraries. While special libraries are acknowledged as moving away from print materials, and while EOS International products such as EOS.Web have been developed specifically for utilizing the elements of the ILS for all types of captured knowledge (regardless of the format of the artifact in which the knowledge is captured, and regardless of whether the captured knowledge is structured or unstructured), at CBS News Archives the development of a tool to replace the legacy system was required to be specifically a non-library product. In describing the development of the solution, Carubia noted that the focus was intentionally on developing a solution for a production facility, not a reference library. Basically, the idea behind the development of the product was to create a solution that would replace an inadequate legacy system and provide a state-of-the-art solution that meets library, broadcasting, and archives industry standards of performance.

From the outset, CBS News Archives management expected the product which would be developed by EOS International in conjunction with the client to be web based. As Johnson commented, ?We wanted to move off a client-server model, to a web-based application. Its easier to propagate out changes to a single server than a host of client machines, and you have fewer issues with heterogeneous client machines. You can count on people having a browser. 

Other client criteria required that the solution would be more reliable than the legacy product (which was quickly becoming obsolete, both hardware and software) with proper backup capability, and, primarily, that the product would be stable. In fact, the stability of the product seems to be the primary driver in the development of the solution; it could not become obsolete in the foreseeable future. 

Not surprisingly, CBS News Archives required that the solution have all the functionality of the legacy system, but with additional features, and keyword management, e.g., the ability to enact a ?mass change in the keyword/authority file system, was expected. Additionally, capacity for future enhancements (such as linking program transcripts to respective media products) was to be a specific feature. 

User training and ease of use of the product were other important considerations. Because EOS.Web Media is a more powerful product than the system previously used, there would be a longer learning curve, but even so, it was important that internal clients find the product easy to use (external clients do not access the system external orders are routed to archives staff who use the system in processing the orders). In the particular fast-paced environment typical of a breaking news operation, the luxury of extensive or detailed training is not cost effective and with the CBS News/EOS.Web Media product, the transition for users from the legacy system to the new solution was required to be as close to seamless as it could be. 

Another key requirement was attention to the ?library location, as Carubia described it, the ability to attach metadata to the physical objects to support the placement of each item in a particular location, with the location and shelf space calculated shortly after the viewed media (e.g., footage shot for a particular broadcast, whether used or unused) is cataloged according to metadata and keywords. CBS News Archives requires that the system match a record of where each item ?belongs with the actual location, so that the item can be returned to the same space when it is returned or, if shelf space opens up as materials are removed permanently or for some other reason are re-located to a different shelf location, the new location and shelf space can be re-calculated as required. This shelf management system is handled through the use of a barcode read by EOS.Web Media. 

Solution: The CBS News EOS.Web Media product went live on Thursday, July 20, 2006. The process of building the product began in January, 2005, with staff from CBS News Archives working with EOS product development staff to design and build the system, usually through weekly conference calls. The development process focused on scalability from the beginning, with the result that EOS.Web Media is designed to accommodate metadata for the CBS News Archives collection as it grows over the years (one staff member commented on the flexibility of the system, which ?makes it easier to work with than the previous system used). Ease of use and re-education and training issues were addressed as well, and EOS training staff came to New York to work with CBS News Archives staff, an activity that paid off well for the client. 

EOS.Web Media, developed with CBS News Archives and now utilized to support that function, meets the standards and client criteria required by CBS News Archives and, with the roll-out on August 20, 2006, is now the state-of-the-art management system for the archives collection. 

This case study was prepared by Guy St. Clair, Consulting Specialist for Knowledge Services at SMR International, New York, NY.

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Related Keywords:cbs news archives, news video, stock content, broadcast stock footage

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