AWS Elemental Spearheads The Washington Post’s Arc Publishing Platform

Founded in 1877, The Washington Post is a world-renowned news publisher and recipient of multiple Pulitzer prizes. Known for its commitment to political journalism and international coverage with 24 correspondents in 18 bureaus around the world, The Washington Post’s mission is to serve as the first place readers turn for breaking news and investigative journalism. The publisher also differentiates itself as a technological innovator in the publishing industry, including its embrace of the newest digital technologies to drive journalistic excellence and improve the overall experience of its subscribers.

The Post’s Arc Publishing platform was developed as an internal suite of tools, initially to bridge the gap between the historical print publishing mission and the new demands created by digital and mobility trends. Showcasing what it takes to be competitive in the news business today, content from Arc is delivered in parallel to print pages, web, mobile apps, and a wide range of social media platforms. Over time, the portfolio of tools in Arc has expanded to include management of copy, photos, and analytics, as well as video through the Goldfish Video Management System.

Starting in 2014, third parties began using the Arc Publishing platform and it is now used by the Los Angeles Times, Canada’s Globe and Mail, the New Zealand Herald, and smaller publishers such as Alaska Dispatch News and Oregon’s Willamette Week. These news organizations use Arc to ensure that subscribers get a responsive, reliable experience when they visit a site on a desktop or mobile device while maintaining their own distinct look and feel. In total, the platform routinely supports 95 million visitors with 1 billion monthly page views.

Arc Publishing is now reaching beyond the world of newspapers by licensing its technology to broadcaster Raycom Media, which has relaunched more than 40 of the company’s television and radio stations on the Arc platform. Arc now enables Raycom to bring news, information, and entertainment content in real time to millions of viewers on their preferred devices. Raycom is one of the largest media companies in the U.S., with stations in 44 markets and 20 states.

“The Arc platform enables fast and seamless integration not only for news publishers but also for large digital brands worldwide, and we’re excited to extend this to a major national broadcaster like Raycom Media,” says Scot Gillespie, CTO of The Washington Post. “Arc’s live and on-demand video capabilities, combined with its superior multi-site support, give Raycom a powerful platform suite with which to achieve their digital publishing goals.”

From an early stage, The Post chose to move away from the monolithic approach used by its prior content management system. With the use of AWS, the Arc Publishing platform takes full advantage of a microservices-based architecture with Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) enabling rapid, automated deployment of new features and updates. Utilizing a custom development platform, also built on AWS, Arc Publishing completes more than 50 deployments per day to help media companies continually enhance viewers’ experiences. AWS has also helped The Washington Post expand Arc into a multi-tenant architecture, scale rapidly, and take full advantage of new innovations such as AWS Elemental Media Services.

The Arc Platform’s Goldfish Video Management System heavily leverages the suite of AWS Elemental Media Services and gives system users complete freedom to pick and choose how they want to present both live and recorded video assets in a single, integrated workflow. AWS Elemental MediaLive, AWS Elemental MediaConvert, and AWS Elemental MediaStore enable Arc to support video version management, captioning, and coordination of different video streams across multiple devices.

One of Arc’s key differentiators is its seamless integration of live stream sources and digital publishing functionality which help provide automated workflows for live video distribution. Arc enables easy and efficient clipping, cropping, and publishing of live video stream segments even while the stream is running. For live content, Arc uses an on-premises AWS Elemental Live encoder, which acts as the video source for the AWS Cloud. All Goldfish assets are then published and delivered globally through the Amazon CloudFront content delivery network (CDN).

The flexibility of the platform, including the extensive use of AWS Elemental Media Services, has enabled Arc’s team to create turn-key solutions that can scale up and onboard clients overnight. In addition to powering all of Raycom’s sites in less than six months, Arc launched iOS and Android apps for the same 40 stations in the same time frame.

By offloading the creation of publishing tools and the hosting of sites, media companies can concentrate on journalism and videography rather than the technical requirements of getting content in front of readers and viewers. “Arc’s value proposition is essentially let us run the content management system (CMS) for you. You focus on differentiation,” adds Gillespie.