A Win-Win Situation
The greeting card business wins big on Mothers' Day. Telephone companies get busy over Christmas. Candy stores count their collateral on Halloween. But for newspapers, election night is one of the most important and most challenging evenings of the year to cover. Not surprisingly, Election 2000 was no exception. In retrospect, the recent Presidential election coverage has been criticized for being both preemptive and often chaotic. Amid the flurry of spin, a newspaper publisher ideally wants to gain temporal advantage over competitors by reporting as accurately as possible given the sometimes unexpected curve balls, as seen specifically with the prolonged Florida "Indecision 2000."
While The Philadelphia Inquirer's post-election edition eked "Still No Winner," other newspapers across the country mistakenly reported Gore the victor or Bush elected long before the recounts, Supreme Court hoopla and pundits took the stage in weeks following that highly-complicated Tuesday. The reason, if you ask Unisys Corporation—headquartered in Blue Ball, PA—is Hermes.
It may sound like a Greek deity and it packs about as much punch as Apollo, but Hermes is actually a client/server publishing system. Simply stated, Hermes manages editorial and production by running in either a UNIX or Windows NT environment. Within the platform, components are connected by Ethernet and TCP/IP protocol, which supports Multicast conventions for individual newspaper companies. The main ingredient in this recipe for enabling success rates at not only The Philadelphia Inquirer, but also The Fresno Bee and Stars and Stripes, has to do with configuration across central and remote departments. Because the system is designed for hundreds of users, Hermes allows numerous persons to work on the same page simultaneously. For instance, one user could be feeding election results into layout while another user is submitting a photo to the same story. According to Unisys reports, each user is alerted about an addition or change by way of an electronic message. Once the message is approved, all of the new information is activated, saving time when last minute coverage is critical to accurate and timely reporting.