Grace under Pressure: DDD Digitizes Dailies in Two Hours

Converting each day’s newspapers, cover to cover, into a digital format, in just two hours is not an easy task. For DDD operators used to working on projects with less stringent deadlines, there is no time to waste.

Angkeaphal Ngeth wastes no time supporting his teammates with only an hour left to deliver the
electronic version of the day’s newspaper.


In August 2012, a U.S.-based digital publishing company contracted the services of Digital Divide Data to produce electronic versions of a set of daily newspapers. The DDD team in Phnom Penh, having performed previous digitization work, was assigned to the project. The catch: they only had two to six hours to deliver each day’s papers so that the digital reader formats of the publication could be disseminated through distribution channels such as Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble at about the same time the newspapers hit newsstands. Working on a serious but rewarding project, the team rose to meet the challenge. They broke up the source material into batches so operators could digitize different portions of the newspaper at the same time. “We work closely with each other and set time frames for various steps of the process,” Project Manager Heak Hok shared. DDD also selected technically knowledgeable and highly disciplined operators to work on this project. One of them is Angkeaphal Ngeth, who rarely leaves his chair, and then only to consult with teammates. “It can be stressful, but we are backed by supportive supervisors and team members.” Angkeaphal also admits that despite the project’s demands, he likes it in part because of the incentives he earns for working beyond his normal hours. “Regardless if it’s a holiday or a Saturday, we ensure that the newspapers are delivered to the client,” he confirmed. The young team, unfamiliar with journalism, had to master the format of each of the American newspapers. Headline, byline, sub-headline, article text, and captions are some of jargon they had to learn quickly and use with confidence. In the beginning, operators had difficulties reconciling the different ways to manage the digitization of each newspaper. Supervisor Sinak Kem shared that the management team expected mistakes at the start. “We had to do rework at the beginning, which was necessary to improve our processes. Once the team learned from their mistakes, we realized greater efficiency with every project turnover. The client is now pleased with the quality level we have achieved.” To celebrate the team’s accomplishments, they hold fun activities like team dinners and karaoke nights. “We work very hard on the projects so we should celebrate the team spirit that sees us through,” Heak adds. Digitizing daily newspapers has become an important service offering for DDD. Heak points to scalability and relevance as the project’s most essential features. If his team does a good job, he felt certain that opportunities for similar projects will be plentiful. True enough, their performance opened doors: from two titles at the onset of the project, they are now digitizing seven publications daily, and anticipate an opportunity to digitize the publishing company’s magazines. Heak likes the dual social impact of the project, “Digitizing daily newspapers allows us to keep readers of the 21st century informed and updated with current news, and also builds the capacity of our young operators to perform high-demand and high-skill work, enabling them to thrive in a modern workplace.”