French Evolution: Sud Ouest’s Journey to Modernize Newsrooms with CUE

November 17, 2021 – 3 min. read

Sud Ouest won’t be left behind in the digital transformation conversation. The nearly 80-year-old French publishing group is revitalizing its approach to news and readers’ access to it with CUE. After only launching in February 2021, the group’s titles are already boasting of more subscribers and a streamlined workflow in its newsrooms.

Headquartered in Bordeaux, a charming and perfectly preserved historic city in the southwest of France, the Bordeaux edition of Sud Ouest is the third-largest regional newspaper in the country. With 11 editions, the company employs hundreds of journalists in 25 newsrooms to produce its print and web publications. Its sheer size is one of the reasons the publisher needed a more efficient content management system to improve its business processes. They have also adopted CUE in their main newspapers La République des Pyrénées and Charente Libre.

Sud Ouest’s Sophie Lemaire, who managed the editorial staff and now oversees the development of editorial tools, says the company was at a blocking point when it came to shifting toward more modern digital technology. 

“We had two CMS systems, one for print and another for web production,” Lemaire explains. “We wanted to avoid double tasks. We had two editors working on the same copy. One doing the copy editing for the web publication and another doing the same article for the print publication.”

Lemaire, who has been with the company for a decade, says CUE was the answer to what Sud Ouest was searching for: a unique and scalable tool that’s keeping up with the digitization of the news industry. One CMS can manage all of their publications and channels. They’re even using CUE to produce thirteen of their editorial newsletters that are sent to subscribers.

Every Sud Ouest journalist now knows how to post an article online and enrich their texts with photos, videos, graphics, and embedded content. Lemaire says before CUE, everyone didn’t know how to manage Sud Ouest’s website on the backend because many journalists were only focused on the print publication. Now the company is seeing a positive shift in journalists’ skillsets. 

“Everyone knows what’s going on on our digital publications and if we’re achieving digital transformation that’s important. It’s all because of CUE, of course,” says Lemaire.

Magalie Serié, head of print for Sud Ouest, agrees.

“CUE web is so easy to use. It wasn’t a problem for (our print journalists) to add a lead or write an article. The technical part is not difficult,” explains Serié.

“Everyone knows what’s going on on our digital publications and if we’re achieving digital transformation that’s important. It’s all because of CUE, of course,”

Sophie Lemaire

Manager and developer of editorial tools, Sud Ouest

The simple-to-use interface is one of the reasons Sud Ouest can customize CUE specifically to its needs. One customized tool the group integrated into CUE is called “t-shirt sizing.” It allows users to select a sort of pre-defined template when they create content to, for instance, restrict the length to a certain number of characters, or a “size” like t-shirts, from XS to XXL. 

“We added this feature because we wanted to make the newspaper easier to mount, and with t-shirt sizing, we can mount the paper like a puzzle,” Serié says.

Along with t-shirt sizing, Sud Ouest, also added a third-party spellcheck tool to its interface. Both applications are a part of another customization they call the “checklist.” Content must meet certain criteria before it can be sent to an editor for review.

CUE is also able to manage multi-channel publishing. Lemaire says, “It’s very easy for our users to navigate between web and print channels of the same article, to add it in a newsletter or send a notification about it. All of this from the same interface.” She praises CUE for its flexibility and its various functionalities. It’s one of the reasons Sud Ouest believes switching to CUE has helped drive its website traffic and increased subscribers.

“We know we produce more URLs. The web production has increased. Our traffic and subscribers have evolved in a good way.”

She admits the pandemic has also contributed to more eyes on Sud Ouest. 

“It’s been a really tough year with Covid... So, there are a lot of things that contribute to the traffic and subscribers. We can’t tell if it’s all thanks to the new tool. But we can definitely say CUE has changed the way we work in the newsroom.”

Serié and Lemaire say they’re still working to do a lot more with CUE, like managing their social networks and adding more functionality. Lemaire says she likes that CUE has numerous capabilities and that the CMS will be able to grow alongside Sud Ouest.