The New York Times Releases New Tool For Collaborative Editing

As more news organizations move toward web content systems that were originally intended for single-person bloggers, the need for a more dynamic tool has becoming increasingly apparent. The New York Times recognizes this and has launched some code that could help. Called ICE (“Integrated Content Editor”), the tool lets collaborators of a web-based text document track changes from multiple users.

In the demo, you can select different users from a dropdown to see their various contributions and deletions in the document. You can toggle between showing/hiding changes.

New York Times Chief Technology Officer Marc Frons explained to Poynter’s Steve Myers the problem they’re trying to solve:

When you’re working in a collaborative environment as we and a lot of journalistic organizations are, you really need that ability for multiple people to touch a piece of copy, and for those changes that everyone has made to be catalogued and archived and shown, so that there’s a record of who’s done what to who, when. …
No one on the Web had such a thing, because most bloggers, when you think about that, are smaller operations than most newsrooms.

Few other alternatives exist for collaborative editing on WordPress. You could use the Revisionary WordPress plugin, which lets collaborators submit revisions to an editor. You could also do what The Bangor Daily News does: compose all stories in Google Docs — which has a fully collaborative text editor — and import into WordPress, but at that point, you’re relying on two separate pieces of software with kludgy integration. Edit Flow allows users to leave editorial comments at the bottom of the post, but that’s a disjointed UX.

The code for ICE is available on GitHub, (though I was unsuccessful in getting the WordPress plugin to function properly while running WP 3.3.1).

While you’re at it, check out the other code repos The New York Times has on GitHub.