The International Journal 
of Newspaper Technology

Home  | Newspapers & Technology | Prepress Technology | Online Technology |
 | Free Subscription | Contact Us | Newspaper Links | Trade Show Listing |
























Duke daily leverages app for better production
Newspaper transitions from aging workflow foundation to Adobe-integrated software.

By Tara McMeekin


The Chronicle, Duke University’s independent daily newspaper, recently went live with K4 Publishing software. Technology integrator Database Publishing Consultants Inc. oversaw the University’s workflow app install, which replaced an outdated Quark Inc. QPS app. In conjunction with K4, the newspaper also transitioned from QuarkXPress to Adobe InDesign and InCopy.

The new integrated apps allow The Chronicle to manage its design and editorial workflow to control to better control its production process, according to the newspaper’s general manager, Jonathan Angier.


The Chronicle began implementing K4 in May and went live in June. The software is made by SoftCare GmbH and distributed in the United States by Managing Editor Inc.

“One thing that we’ve liked is that K4, InCopy and InDesign work similarly to what we’re used to so it’s fairly easy for us to train people and get them into the system,” said David Graham, student editor.

There are roughly 100 volunteer reporters, editors, photographers, designers and production staff for the Monday-Friday publication, with approximately 30 users on the K4 app at any given time. Many of the reporters write only occasionally throughout The Chronicle’s fall and spring semester publishing schedule.

More versatility

Angier said The Chronicle chose K4 based on its relationship with DPCI and also based on suggestion by some other college publications.

“This is a system that a number of school papers have gone to recently — papers that we have a lot of respect for,” Angier said. “It’s given us more versatility and creativity over what we previously had.”

The Chronicle is using its new apps to produce the paper each day and Graham said that content is also repurposed for publication on its Web site Eventually, Graham said The Chronicle will tap into features of K4 that automate print-to-Web publishing.

Overall, the new apps have reduced bugs in the workflow — key to a staff made up entirely of volunteers, all students working for the paper in their spare time.

“We don’t have a J-school here, although there’s a journalism certificate program, so this kind of functions as our J-school,” Graham said.

Although Graham was not involved in the details of the decision to transition from QPS to K4 and InDesign/InCopy, he said the switch stemmed largely from dissatisfaction with The Chronicle’s aging QPS app.

Losing data

“QPS had a penchant for crashing on us and there were times when the entire server would crash and we’d lose the newspaper and be up until 8 a.m.,” Graham said. “Now shutdowns are less frequent. Quark had a lot of capabilities that were harder to find and then harder to use once you found them and with InDesign and InCopy it’s all right there — the interface is useable and you can figure it out.”

The newspaper’s typical day goes something like this:

There’s a 3:30 p.m. budget meeting after which time the managing editor begins page layout in InDesign. He then updates stories and gives writers lengths. All the while, staff is editing stories through InCopy and K4.

“We usually get most of the basic editing done by 10:30 or 11 p.m.,” Graham said. “After that, we make things fit, check articles out through InDesign and try to get the paper out by 12:30 or 1 a.m.” Just like a “real” paper.

Graham said the staff is split about 40-60 between people that are interested in journalism careers versus those who are just newspapering while attending Duke. It’s a big commitment at any rate for part- and full-time college students.

The Chronicle has been in production for more than 100 years and is completely independent of Duke University. The newspaper claims a circulation of approximately 15,000 between its distribution throughout the university and surrounding parts of Durham, N.C. The Chronicle’s Web site, meantime, averages 70,000 hits per day.