Superdesk Brings Digital Newsroom to Independent Media Organisations

Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a finalist.

Superdesk Brings Digital Newsroom to Independent Media Organisations

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

With Superdesk, all media organisations are free to define their newsroom & deliver content to any platform, anywhere, anytime.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

One of the biggest hurdles for small media organisations trying to set up newspapers in transition and post-conflict states is finding the money to buy a publishing system that can deliver to print and all digital platforms; the cost for those not tied to big business or political interests is prohibitive. Media organisations are increasingly required to deliver content to multiple platforms. They need to distribute content to whatever device the user turns to in order to access information. Superdesk is the publishing solution for the multi-platform age. Superdesk offers broadcasters and publishers of all sizes the opportunity to exploit content across all revenue-generating devices using existing resources and without incurring extra costs.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Superdesk is a free, open source newsroom and workflow management software. One tool to deliver the entire publishing cycle for print and broadcast, from ingest to output, built by journalists, for journalists, with the aim of helping the media business towards financial sustainability. Superdesk is open source, free, downloadable, intuitive, platform/device neutral, low-cost and easy to update and install. A Superdesk-powered newsroom is accessible to traditionally-trained journalists who have been trained (or self-trained) in new media from the beginning, as well as for power bloggers who “graduate” (i.e. wish to compete at a higher level with traditional media in their respective markets). With Superdesk, media organisations will be free to define their own type of newsroom organisation, content delivery or business mix. Whether the desired model is highly hierarchical or community driven, hyperlocal or global, paid or free, traditional or cutting-edge, visual or audio, print or online, Superdesk will be there to ensure journalists deliver content efficiently and cost-effectively. It's moldable to any conceivable collaborative news production and publishing/broadcasting scenario.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Superdesk will provide drastic productivity improvements in content authoring and have a highly customizable, multilingual user interface reflecting the particular workflow and nature of publishing. It provides full management of electronic publishing platforms: first and foremost the web, then mobile, e-book readers and social networks. In addition, it is print-friendly and can deliver well structured and well formatted content to specialized tools (e.g. Adobe InDesign, or legacy commercial newsroom systems), and is able to import final versions of content back. TV is important too. Superdesk is broadcast-friendly, delivers well structured and formatted content to specialized tools (e.g. playout systems) and is able to import their outputs back. Superdesk focuses on content filtering and processing functionality - it provides an environment for quick processing of external sources of news/information with “ingest” - rewriting/translation editorial control - and “digest” - easy simultaneous publishing on multiple platforms. It provides revenue-generating components (e.g. classified ads, listings, data/content syndication) for the web, and is able to deliver those also to traditional platforms. With Superdesk, independent media organisations are able to take advantage of external content hosting and delivery services (Youtube, Vimeo,,, etc.) without getting locked in. Superdesk allows for the inclusion of citizens in the news process via social network components.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Proprietary systems exist as developed by Tera, Atex, Octopus. However the cost of these completely prohibits small to medium independent media enterprises in emerging markets using them. No equivalent product to Superdesk is known, certainly not in the open source world. The existence of other CMSes is actually a plus point for Superdesk. Superdesk enables various existing systems to communicate in a new digital newsroom.
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name


Organization Country

, PR

Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Idea (you're poised to launch)

How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Social Impact
FOUNDING STORY: We want to hear about your “Aha!” moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution’s potential to change the world.

Sourcefabric grew from the Campware suite of free, open-source tools that has been helping publishers and broadcasters worldwide for more than 10 years. Having implemented projects over the past decade, providing valuable support to independent media in countries as varied as Indonesia, Belarus and Sierra Leone, the founders recognised the value, flexibility and power of open source software. With the onset of social networks, digital publishing and citizen journalism, the logical next step was to develop a tool specifically for the newsroom and Superdesk was born.

Specify both the depth and scale of your solution’s social impact to date

The Superdesk idea is currently in development, but already is having an influence on how Sourcefabric is developing its other media tools. Several features have begun to be integrated into Newscoop, Sourcefabric's content management system, and future integration is planned. Newscoop powers over 150 large, professional media organisations worldwide, many of whom are already benefiting from the Superdesk philosophy. Opinion-formers are already evangelising about its potential.

Leading media consultant (BBC, Al-Jazeera) David Brewer said this of Superdesk: "It's a dream come true for me. A group of international developers working on a free, open-source tool designed to power a converged newsroom concept based on a centralised superdesk. (It's) a tall order and a massive task, but already the team at Sourcefabric are well down the road of delivering on all the above. Once they do they could become the publication tool of choice for all who want to deliver a content offering across multiple devices without having to break the bank to do so. And that could be a massive boost to the establishing of an alternative voice where independent media is absent."

What is your projected impact within the next 1-5 years? Is your idea replicable? If so, how?

Superdesk will become the leading open source newsroom tool for media organisations globally. Initial impact will be among newspapers, radio and TV stations in emerging markets, plus local news organisations in more developed media climates. An open source codebase means the software will be free and a growing community will continually improve the project. Organisations can develop or commission new features, creating a secondary economy around improvement and implementation for developers, engineers, systems administrators, designers and media consultants. A professional, paid hosting service will allow organisations to leave installation and maintenance to experts and will ensure financial stability for the project.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and mark growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Release Superdesk version 1.0 as free, open source software.

Six-Month Tasks
Task 1

Find and implement Superdesk with proof-of-concept partner

Task 2

Develop core functionality

Task 3

Create community platform for growth and advocacy

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Launch Superdesk hosting project for professional media organisations.

12-Month Tasks
Task 1

Establish hosting infrastructure - servers, payment systems, administrators

Task 2

Develop community and awareness significantly

Task 3

Obtain feedback and implement core improvements for the software

How many people have been impacted by your project?

Fewer than 100

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

Explain how your company, program, service or product is structured


What barriers have hindered the success of your project to date? How do you plan to overcome these and other challenges as you grow your solution?

A lack of development resources meant that, previously, an open source newsroom software was not a possibility. Any resources the organisation had were invested into the development of Newscoop which already had professional users. Sourcefabric was launched in late April 2010 with generous start up funding, which allowed us to plan our core activities well into the future and begin Superdesk development.

How do you see the information-technology and media sectors shifting over the next decade? How will your solution adapt to and/or drive that changing environment?

If traditional media companies, and especially mid-size or small ones, are to survive, they have to be ready for any eventuality in the industry. Superdesk opens up management thinking to emerging platforms. It makes any media operation multi-platform by default (with nearly unchanged staff). It increases productivity, decreases processing time of news events, provides an ultimate insurance policy against diminishing returns on any platform (e.g. print) and taps the full content-generation capacity of a media organisation.

Failure is not always an option. If your solution fails to gain traction in the next two years, what other applications of the idea could you explore?

Firstly, interoperability with Sourcefabric's other open source software products for media organisations will be built into Superdesk as standard, meaning that should the idea fail to gain traction, our other software would 'inherit' the features.

Secondly, given that the codebase is open source, the project could also be given over to 'the community' to maintain - allowing adaptation and improvement to take place on that basis.

Thirdly, once the product is developed, enterprise-level modules and features can be developed for major media, meaning that even if wide-scale adoption does not take place, project-by-project integrations can take place, with appropriate resources being budgeted for in a bespoke fashion.

Expand on your selections, explaining how you will sustain funding

Sourcefabric and Superdesk will have three key revenue streams:

1) Start-up funding. Generous start-up funding in April 2010 has allowed for dramatic expansion over three years and the implementation of a business plan to maintain financial sustainability.

2) Partnerships and donors. Sourcefabric is working with a number of partners throughout the world who fund specific media projects. This funding is often used to develop the tools being used (like Superdesk) and then the improvements are committed into the public versions of the software.

3) Software as a Service (SaaS). Paid hosting and support for our software will become a significant revenue stream in 2012. Our first SaaS programme's infrastructure will pave the way for Superdesk SaaS and launches in October 2011.

Tell us about your partnerships

Sourcefabric was formerly known as CAMP (the Center for Advanced Media-Prague), initially founded by the Media Development Loan Foundation in 1998. It is now an autonomous organisation that has partnerships throughout the word with various donors, NGOs and media development bodies. Recent project partners include the Open Society Initative For West Africa and IREX Media. A private Swiss foundation is providing Sourcefabric with its core funding currently.

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section?

Sourcefabric has a team of over 35 employees based in offices in Prague, Berlin, Cluj, Minsk, Toronto and Guatemala. Their roles range from development, to quality assurance, to administration, to client liaison, project management and communications.

All have significant experience in their field, many have been involved in journalism previously - all are passionate and dedicated to supporting independent media worldwide.

Changemakers is a collaborative and supportive space. Please specify any community resources you would need to grow and sustain your initiative. Select all that apply

Investment, Marketing or media, Collaboration or networking, Innovation or ideas.

Specify any resources you might offer to support other initiatives. Select all that apply

Human resources or talent, Marketing or media, Research or information, Collaboration or networking, Innovation or ideas, Mentorship.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren’t specified within the list

Sourcefabric would be committed to becoming active in the Changemakers space and would commit significant resources in the form of media expertise, global journalistic and news enterprise contacts, collaborative research or idea-sharing and mentorship for young developers or journalists interested in this field.

In return Sourcefabric hopes to gain further exposure for the work it is doing, and specifically for Superdesk, access to a greater range of news organisations that could benefit from the project. Funding, collaboration and networking opportunities with other NGOs, media projects and news agencies would be welcomed.

Define your company, program, service or product in 1-2 short sentences

Superdesk is an open source newsroom and workflow tool built to help independent media towards financial sustainability.