The Politics of Science
Politics is in CQ's blood. Congressional Quarterly (CQ), the Washington D.C.-based watch-dog publisher, outputs magazines, books and directories in print and online. But most recently, CQ experienced a face-lift from the inside out. Really Strategies and Information Management Team (IMT) steered the transition of the weekly CQ Researcher from print to the Web.
Both of the content management and consulting companies worked with CQ Press to successfully implement several simultaneous tracks of the project without jeopardizing daily editorial and production operations. The team implemented changes to not only the production system, but also content format and feeds on the new Web site. During the course of the internal remodeling, CQ Researcher continued publishing without missing its long-time mark as well-respected eye on Congress.
"This was not a project in which the launch date could slip," explains Jennifer Ryan, director of electronic product development for CQ Press. "We were working with a live weekly product that continued to publish both in print and on the Web throughout the development process. Because we were changing backend workflow processes to feed data to the new Web site, we had to ensure the new site launched on a specific date. We also had to make sure that we could still keep the weekly production of the print product."
To ensure support for future products, CQ Press chose to store its content in XML format. Really Strategies and IMT recommended and implemented the XML production workflow changes to ease the transition to a new format and to take advantage of the opportunity to process improvements that better support the print product and new Web venture. In other words, all content that is published online can easily be routed to the print publication and vice versa. And with the XML asset management in place, past content can also be reused to chronicle content history or parallel new content with past features. To achieve such well-oiled status, time and training were of essence.
"Though changing the back-end processes while creating the new site was a real time challenge," admits Ed Stevenson, Really Strategies' senior content engineer, "The site's new data feed is much smoother than in the past. The CQ Researcher team is now equipped to feed both print and Web outputs in a streamlined, automated fashion which is ideal for a weekly publication."
Like the majority of Congressional Quarterly's political stake, the CQ Researcher site provides coverage of Congress, federal, state and local government, as well as national and international politics—all of which require up-to-the-minute reporting. Because CQ's readership includes 95 percent of the members of Congress, academic libraries, media outlets, corporations and agencies, delivering immediate content online enhances the experience for a variety of the subscribers. Similarly, XML format allows users to access a complete archive of materials by subscription. Ryan says that this is particularly important if a user is interested in tracing legislation or even researching individual voting records.
Stevenson adds, "It all really came down to the two critical last weeks in which we needed to ensure that we kept the weekly content moving to the new Web site, while changing the back-end production processes, converting old content, migrating user account information into a new access control system and developing the new site with a different delivery method for the data feed."
Due to its success, Ryan says that the content management providers services are retained for future migration of print content to the Web, including a plan to implement new content management and production processes housing CQ's political pantheon.
-Natalie Hope McDonald