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“Print First Solution” for Cumberland Herald


The Cumberland and Westmorland Herald is a weekly broadsheet read by over 12,000 households in East Cumbria. Printed every Friday afternoon, 13,000 copies are delivered to newsagents and other high street retailers reaching readers by Saturday morning.


Publishing newspapers is a tough business and competing for readership in a digital age is intense. The production of the weekly Herald is run to an extremely tight schedule with the paper being “put to bed” by 1pm every Friday afternoon. It is critical that the paper is printed and distributed to shops, newspaper stands and households at the same time every week.  The system is wholly reliant on a high availability IT system and therefore resilience, security and a robust disaster recovery system are essential. 


As with most newspaper businesses, different teams work on different systems; the editorial and production teams working on Apple Macs and the ad booking team working on PCs. The Herald faced a pressing problem, the hardware and software were rapidly becoming obsolete and were no longer being supported by some of the manufacturers.


Managing director of the C W Herald, Simon Veitch explains “We are a business very much driven by print, with the internet playing an important but secondary role and therefore needed an IT partner who could provide a “Print First Solution”. We use a specialist editorial system “Scoop” along with an ad-booking system which are ideal for a newspaper of our size. We wanted to keep both systems but needed to move our page production from Quark, which was rapidly becoming out-dated, to InDesign. Our disaster recovery was adequate but not ideal.”


Conformedia undertook a comprehensive audit of the IT systems. The obsolete hardware, including older workstations and servers from Apple Xserve to Windows 2003 were upgraded to a new virtualised cluster system, incorporating 3 servers and a 10GB iSCSI SAN. One of the servers is even a MacMini server to adhere to Apple’s virtualisation EULA.


All servers including the Mac Mini Server are now incorporated in a clustered virtualised system which brings a number of important benefits to the newspaper:


  • Should one physical server fail another server from the cluster takes over ensuring no downtime

  • The solution is completely scalable, future-proofing the business

  • Maintenance can easily be carried out as all resources are shared across the physical resources and virtual machines can be moved when necessary 

  • The business is receiving better ROI as there is no longer redundant servers waiting for a problem to occur 

  • Backups are taken of all the virtual servers and data centrally and copies kept onsite for immediate access when required along with rotated offsite backups preventing the loss of valuable data 

  • The system is now clustered and should any problems occur with any one of the hosts the virtualisation software will automatically move the virtual machine to another host within seconds, with virtually no consequence to end users

  • Additional software has been installed to provide a professional archiving solution with searchable index to track archived and retrieve archived files with ease. All elements used to build up the newspaper are searchable, from image meta data, PDF files to the InDesign pages

  • The Scoop Editorial system was overhauled with a new version, integration with InDesign Creative Cloud and a new Scoop editorial archive


Conformedia’s specialist knowledge in IT for print and publishing ensured that The Herald received a bespoke IT solution, appropriate to the needs of a publishing business. Large files, common in this industry are seamlessly transferred throughout the organisation ensuring efficient working from all teams regardless of operating system. A comprehensive disaster recovery solution is in place, data is secure and document integrity maintained at all times. 


“Conformedia is our IT department. We don’t have the expertise and it’s not cost effective to have our own IT department – they would be sat around for most of the time so it makes sense to have both the software and hardware handled by the team at Conformedia”. 
Simon Veitch, Managing Director, The C W Herald.

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