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译者:邓小雪 & 倪婷



The Washington Post Is A Software Company Now


本文选自 Fast Company | 取经号原创翻译

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“There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy. We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment.”


That was Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, in the letter he wrote to Washington Post employees upon agreeing to personally acquire the 136-year-old newspaper in August 2013. He acknowledged they might have apprehensions about the historic transfer of ownership, and most of his missive was dedicated to reassuring them that the company would remain dedicated to serving readers even in a time of head-snapping change for the business of journalism.


missive /ˈmɪsɪv/ 1.N-COUNT A missive is a letter or other message that someone sends. 书信; 函件

More than four years later, it’s clear that Bezos was true to his word. But the invention and experimentation that’s happened at the Post has included a side project which is a major departure from the company’s traditional comfort zone.


Since 2014, a new Post operation now called Arc Publishing has offered the publishing system the company originally used for as a service. That allows other news organizations to use the Post’s tools for writers and editors. Arc also shoulders the responsibility of ensuring that readers get a snappy, reliable experience when they visit a site on a PC or mobile device. It’s like a high-end version of Squarespace or, tailored to solve the content problems of a particular industry.

从2014年起,一个名为Arc Publishing的新出版系统诞生了(Arc原本是《华盛顿邮报》网站的服务器),它允许其他新闻机构使用邮报的工具箱程序进行编辑和写作。Arc也令读者在PC端或移动端均能享受到畅快而可靠的使用体验。这就像是高配版的 Squarespace 或 ,专门解决了某一特定行业的内容问题。

By offloading the creation of publishing tools and the hosting of sites, media companies can concentrate on the journalism itself rather than the technical requirements of getting it in front of readers. Scot Gillespie, the Washington Post’s chief technology officer, says that Arc’s value proposition is “let us run the CMS [content management system] for you, the creation of circulation. You focus on differentiation.”


differentiation [difərenʃi’eiʃən] n. a discrimination between things as different and distinct 差异化

Among the publications that have moved to Arc are the Los Angeles Times, Canada’s Globe and Mail, the New Zealand Herald, and smaller outfits such as Alaska Dispatch News and Oregon’s Willamette Week. In aggregate, sites running on Arc reach 300 million readers; publishers pay based on bandwidth, which means that the more successful they are at attracting readers, the better it is for Arc Publishing. The typical bottom line ranges from $10,000 a month at the low end up to $150,000 a month for Arc’s biggest customers.

洛杉矶时报、加拿大环球邮报、新西兰先驱报、以及其他一些更小型的出版商(例如阿拉斯加通讯报和俄勒冈威拉米特周报)都迁移到了Arc之上。在Arc上运营的的网站总计已经有了3亿读者;出版商按带宽付费,这就意味着他们吸引越多的读者,就对Arc Publishing越有利。典型的收费下线可低至1万每月,而Arc最大的客户则能缴纳15万每月。

For the Post, Arc Publishing isn’t a distraction from serving readers–it’s a means of bolstering its financial wherewithal to do so, in an age when many news outlets are slashing budgets and downsizing journalistic aspirations. “We’ve done a much better job in slowing down the print decline relatively, compared to others,” Gillespie stresses. But selling software gives the Post a revenue source with the potential for the sort of explosive growth that’s unlikely to come from subscriptions and advertising.

《华盛顿邮报》并没有因为Arc Publishing而无暇顾及读者服务,相反Arc提供了必要的资金,使其不必像其他出版商一样削减支出、降薪裁员。格里斯佩强调说,“相比于其他同行,我们在缓解出版业衰退这方面做得要好得多。”出售软件成为《华盛顿邮报》的收益来源,但也意味着邮报未来的巨额收入增长很难再来自于订阅和广告。

The Washington Post doesn’t disclose Arc Publishing’s revenue or whether it’s currently profitable. (The Post itself turned a profit in 2016.) It does say, however, that Arc’s revenue doubled year-over-year and the goal is to double it again in 2018. According to Post CIO Shailesh Prakash, the company sees the platform as something that could eventually become a $100 million business.

《华盛顿邮报》并未公布Arc Publishing的收益或目前是否盈利(邮报自身在2016年是盈利的)。但Arc同比收入确实是翻倍的,并且其2018年的目标是再次翻倍。《华盛顿邮报》首席信息官沙利什·普拉卡什表示,公司将Arc平台的最终盈利定为1亿美元。

Any newspaper company in America would be intrigued by the possibility of $100 million in incremental revenue. That’s not the sum of Arc Publishing’s value to the Post, however. “Sometimes–usually, honestly–the things the Post needs to support its newsroom become the features that the other clients of Arc use,” says Jeremy Gilbert, the company’s director of strategic initiatives. “But sometimes other clients request things that end up actually benefitting the Post.”

美国任何新闻机构都会被1亿美元的潜在收益所吸引。然而,这不是Arc Publishing为《华盛顿邮报》所带来的总收入。“说实话,有时候,邮报为了支持自己新闻编辑部所成立的平台变成了Arc用户所使用的产品属性;而有时候用户的需求也令邮报受益。”公司战略计划主管杰里米·吉尔伯特表示。

“We Didn’t Have The Tools To Be More Productive”


Though selling software as a service sounds like a quintessential story of the Post’s Jeff Bezos era, Arc’s origins date to the period before he bought the paper. A half decade or so ago, like every other major newspaper publisher in America, the company was scrambling to move at web speed at the same time that financial pressures were requiring it to do more with less. And like an awful lot of papers, it found that the CMS it was then using was an obstacle to progress.


“As a business, we asked more of our newsroom,” says Gillespie. “What we noticed was one, we didn’t have the tools to be more productive and two, the CMS was a fairly monolithic platform. Adding any features to it, making any changes to it, or getting support from vendors was just very difficult.”

“从生意角度出发,我们提高了对新闻编辑部的要求,” Gillespie说道。“我们注意到,其一,我们缺乏一个更高效的工具;其二,CMS是一个相当自成一体的平台。添加任何属性,做任何更改,供应商提供任何支持都是很困难的。”

monolithic [,mɔnəu’liθik] adj characterized by massiveness and rigidity and total uniformity 统一的

Then there was the experience for site visitors, who had little patience for slow-loading content, especially when they read Post content on a mobile device. “Sometimes people are spending mere seconds with a story,” says Gilbert. “And so if all you can accomplish in those handful of seconds is loading the headline or loading an ad or a single photo, then you’ve really done them a disservice.”

而浏览网站的读者对于加载缓慢的内容实在缺乏耐心,尤其是那些移动端的用户。“有时,人们只花几秒钟来阅读一篇故事。如果你能做的只是将这宝贵的几秒钟用来加载标题、广告或是一张图片,那你真是在帮倒忙。” 吉尔伯特表示。

disservice [,dis’sə:vis] n an act intended to help that turns out badly 伤害;帮倒忙的行为;不亲切的行为;虐待

Led by CIO Prakash, the Post’s technical team responded to these issues by building a publishing platform from scratch, beginning with a page-rendering system called PageBuilder, which rolled out in early 2013 and which the company has continued to refine. “Over the time that Shailesh has been here, we’ve taken our stories down by about half, going from about six or seven seconds to render an individual article to sometimes less than two seconds now,” Gilbert says.

为了解决这个问题,《华盛顿邮报》的技术团队在普拉卡什的领导下从零开始搭建了名为“PageBuilder”的发行平台,平台于2013年初试运营,公司也在不断改进。“沙利什在职期间,我们将文章的加载时间缩短了近一半,以前要花6~7秒才能显示一篇完整的文章现在只需要不到2秒。” 吉尔伯特表示。

PageBuilder turned out to be the first of an ever-expanding portfolio of tools. Today, Websked handles planning and scheduling of stories. Anglerfish and Goldfish are for wrangling photos and videos, respectively. Ellipsis is optimized for quick-hit news coverage by multiple authors. Other tools with names such as Loxodo, Bandito, Darwin, Clavis, and InContext cover everything from analyzing how articles are performing with readers to making money through paywalls and advertising. There’s also a “white label” mobile app for iOS and Android, which publishers can brand and fill with their own content.

PageBuilder成为了第一个扩张型工具箱的原型。如今,Websked负责文章的规划安排,Anglerfish 和Goldfish则分别处理图片和视频,Ellipsis能优化多位作者写出的新闻速报。其他各类工具(例如Loxodo, Bandito, Darwin, Clavis和 InContext)能涵盖从文章呈现到收费和广告等各项功能。出版商还能在名为 “白色标签”的手机APP中添加自己的内容供苹果和安卓用户使用。

By 2014, the year after the Post’s sale to Bezos, the company began to think of the functionality it was constructing as having the potential to make other newspapers’ journalists and readers happy: “Obviously, the itch that we scratched existed elsewhere,” says Gillespie. In October of that year, it announced that its platform would power the websites of student newspapers at the University of Maryland and Columbia University, a move that Prakash said was intended to help field-test new tools as well as support the work of journalists in training.


The following year, the company gave those tools the name Arc—meant to convey that they cover the entire publishing process from creation to monetization—and signed on its first official customer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Portland-area publication Willamette Week. More deals with larger clients have since followed, such as one with Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and New York Daily News publisher Tronc, announced in March of 2017.


 “A Technologist Can See When A Reporter Is Having Trouble”


Any journalist who has logged a substantial number of hours toiling in content-management systems knows what it’s like to use tools that feel like they were devised by software engineers who have never met a reporter or editor. As a publishing platform created by a company primarily engaged in the news business, Arc doesn’t suffer from that disconnect.


toil [tɔɪl] n hard work, especially work which makes you feel physically tired (尤指体力上的)苦工

“Usually, it’s really hard for engineers to understand what a news outlet needs or what journalists need,” says Daniel Hadad, founder and publisher of Infobae, an Argentine news site, which, thanks to a global Spanish-speaking readership, sometimes exceeds a billion page views in a single month. “What we like about Arc is they come with a background from the Washington Post so they knew exactly what to do.” Announced as an Arc customer in June 2016, Infobae was the first large-scale site other than the Post itself to move to the platform; Hadad says that it would likely be cheaper for the company to host its own sites, but that Arc is “a perfect match.” In the first year after the switch, the site’s unique users grew by 110% and its page views by 254%.

丹尼尔.哈达认为:“软件工程师通常难以领会新闻媒体或记者的需求。”丹尼尔.哈达是阿根廷新闻网站Infobae的创始人及出版人,有赖于全球的西班牙语读者,Infobae网站的单月页面浏览量不时超过10亿次。“我们之所以喜欢Arc是因为它源自于《华盛顿邮报》,因此他们很清楚该做什么。”2016年6月,Infobae宣布成为Arc平台客户,成为除《华盛顿邮报》外入驻平台的第一个大型网站。丹尼尔.哈达说公司自己运营网站可能会更便宜,但是入驻Arc是“一种完美的结合”。入驻Arc平台后, 网站的排重用户增长了110%,页面浏览量增长254%。

Back at Post headquarters in Washington, D.C., “because the technologists and the reporters and editors are often sitting alongside each other, sometimes we can get away with a less formal process to identify needs,” explains Gilbert. “A technologist can see when a reporter or editor is having trouble with something, and so sometimes it doesn’t have to be ‘file a ticket,’ ‘file a complaint,’ ‘send an email to an anonymous location.’” For instance, when editorial staffers wondered if it was possible for the Post site to preview videos with a moving clip rather than a still photo, a video developer quickly built a tool to allow editors to create snippets. “We see a much higher click-through rate when people use these animated GIFs than when they used the static images from before,” Gilbert says.

在公司位于华盛顿特区的总部,“技术人员和记者、编辑们经常坐在一起,有时候我们会用一个不那么正式的流程来了解需求。”吉尔伯特解释道:“在记者或编辑在使用遇到麻烦时技术人员就能立马发现,所以有时不需要通过提交工单、投诉或是发送邮件到匿名地址等方式来反映问题。”举个例子,当编辑人员提出网站是否可以使用剪辑片段而不是静态图片来预览视频时,视频开发人员迅速开发了一款允许编辑人员创建视频片段的工具。吉尔伯特说:“ 使用GIF动图取代静态图片后,点进率比之前大大提高。”

snippet [‘snɪp.ɪt] n a small and often interesting piece of news, information or conversation 一条,一则(新闻、消息或谈话)

conversation between Arc developers and the people who use their tools extends to paying customers. “We were just here yesterday in the big office right next to my office, and they were presenting 10 things that were on our backlog that we wish we could have,” says Greg Doufas, chief technology/digital officer at the Globe and Mail. “And not only were they presenting their roadmap to get them there, they were making commitments to deliver them in time for some important things for our business. They’ve learned, as we’ve learned, that it helps them make a more robust platform, because the next client that they’ll fly to in New Zealand or Argentina will want those same things as well.” (Such close collaboration is possible in part because of Arc’s relatively small pool of current clients; the Post plans to broaden that base by seeking business from makers of consumer packaged goods, as well as launching a self-serve version of the platform.)

Arc开发者和使用者之间的对话由工具使用者扩大到付费用户。 《环球邮报》首席技术/数字官格雷格·杜法斯说:“昨天在挨着我办公室的一个大办公室里,他们展示了10个我们在需求任务列表上希望能够实现的功能,他们不仅展示了实现路线图,同时还承诺会及时支持对我们公司来说非常重要的需求。他们也同样认识到,这样的对话有利于打造一个更加强大的平台,他们即将飞到新西兰或阿根廷要见的下一个客户也会有同样的需求。”(这种密切合作能够实现的部分原因是由于现在Arc的用户数量还相对较少,邮报计划通过寻求与快销品制造商的商业合作以及上线自助版平台的方式来扩大用户基数。)

It’s tempting to see adopting Arc purely as a way for a publisher to opt out of having technology expertise of its own. But Doufas stresses that the Globe and Mail doesn’t look at it that way at all. Instead, using the Arc platform has allowed the company to redeploy its tech staffers to projects that it thinks have more unique upside. For instance, they’ve built a metrics tool called Sophi that aims to help the newsroom identify hidden-gem stories, regardless of whether they racked up page views by being prominently featured on the home page.


upside [‘ʌp.saɪd] noun: the advantage of a situation 优点;好处;有利的一面

rack up If a business racks up profits, losses, or sales, it makes a lot of them. If a sportsman, sportswoman, or team racks up wins, they win a lot of matches or races. (商业上)大量获得(利润),遭受(严重损失),热销;(体育中)获胜,得(分)

“There’s no way we would have been able to build our own analytics software, our own algorithms, and our own data science capabilities ourselves if all of these people were working to maintain the operations of the CMS,” says Doufas.


“It’s Hard to Attribute Anything Directly To Jeff”


Though the Washington Post is not owned by Amazon, its kinship to Jeff Bezos’s biggest company is unmistakable; Gillespie says that the success of Amazon Web Services is an inspiration for the people responsible for Arc Publishing. Bezos himself participates in meetings where Arc is discussed, asking questions and making suggestions, but his greatest contribution has been enabling the Post to engage in the experimentation and invention he referenced in his August 2013 letter.

虽然《华盛顿邮报》不属于亚马逊,但《华盛顿邮报》与杰夫·贝佐斯旗下最大的公司——亚马逊无疑具有亲近的关系。吉莱斯皮说亚马逊云计算服务平台的成功对Arc Publishing的负责人来说是一种鼓舞。贝佐斯参加了Arc平台的研发会议并提出了问题和建议,但他最大的贡献在于让《华盛顿邮报》去尝试、去创造,一如2013年8月贝佐斯在致《华盛顿邮报》员工的公开信中所说的那样。

“This is where the Bezos effect helps us,” says Gillespie. “He gave us that runway to continue to innovate, where other publishers may not have had the same opportunity.” The Globe and Mail‘s Doufas even says that his company has been able to attract top-notch engineering talent thanks in part to “the relationship with the Washington Post, because of the Jeff Bezos philosophy and, frankly, the profile and esteem it brings to the table.”

吉莱斯皮说:“这就是贝佐斯效应对我们的帮助, 他给我们提供了持续创新的轨道,而其他出版商则未必有这样的机会。” 《环球邮报》的杜法斯甚至指出《环球邮报》之所以能够吸引顶尖工程技术人才要部分地归因于“与《华盛顿邮报》的合作,坦白地说,归因于杰夫·贝佐斯的商业哲学及其所带来的影响力和尊重。”

top-notch If you describe someone or something as top-notch, you mean that they are of a very high standard or quality. 一流的;顶尖的

Arc Publishing’s early success with external customers may give the Washington Post reason for optimism, but the effort is itself a beneficiary of the upbeat, can-do spirit which the company’s management has successfully cultivated in the age of Bezos. “It’s hard to attribute anything directly to Jeff,” says Gilbert, emphasizing that Post editor Marty Baron’s “incredible acumen” and CIO Prakash’s “incredible energy” enable the Post to do big, ambitious things.

Arc Publishing在外部用户上取得的初步成功给了《华盛顿邮报》足以乐观的理由,但这个成功本身就得益于贝佐斯时代在公司的经营管理中所形成的乐观和敢做能为的精神。吉尔伯特说:“很难将一切直接归功于杰夫·贝佐斯”,他还强调指出《华盛顿邮报》执行主编马蒂·巴伦的“非凡智慧”和首席信息官普拉卡什的“非凡活力”使得《华盛顿邮报》能够做成雄心勃勃的大事。

upbeat [ʌp’bi:t] adjective: full of hope, happiness and good feelings 乐观的;快乐的;积极向上的

“Compared to a lot of newsrooms, I feel like there’s just a sense that things have gotten better and will continue to get better,” he adds. “The newsroom really believes that. And I think it shows in the way that people approach their job, that they are genuinely excited to be here because they think that they’re contributing something important, and they can see the results of what they’re doing.”



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