Creating stories with Arc Publishing CMS

If this is your first time using the Arc content management system (CMS), welcome! This is the platform that is used to publish stories on

If you’ve used another CMS like WordPress before, a lot of this will be familiar. Even if all this is new to you, don’t sweat it. Give yourself some time to explore how the tools work, don’t be scared to try things. You’ll be a power user in no time.

I suggest you start with this video guide and follow the steps to set up an author bio first. It will make more sense if you watch the video than try to follow the written steps alone. Then open Composer, check out how it works and write a test story to get used to working with all the tabs and tools.

1) Log on via Okta (starts at 0:00 in the video above)

To work with the Arc Content Management System (CMS) you need to login through Okta. If you haven’t set up an Okta login, send me (Graham) an email: or talk to a Annenberg Media web editor.

Here’s the URL to login to our CMS:

You should bookmark it so that it’s easy to find in the future. Login and click the button for Arc Publishing.

2) Arc Home (starts at 2:00 in the video above)

When you log into Arc, you’ll see a list of trending content on the CMS home page. This tells you how many people are reading stories on our site at any given time. You should see a sidebar with a list of all the tools built into Arc on the left, like Composer, Photo Center and the Authors database. If you don’t see those tools on the left, click the Arc “A” icon in the upper left to open that menu.

3) Create an Author Profile (starts at 2:45 in the video above)

Ok, first thing: watch the video guide. This isn’t really that complicated if you know what you’re doing, but Arc’s finicky when it comes to author bio creation and if you just try to read the steps written out without the video it’s going to seem way more complicated than it has to be. Check out the video, follow along with that, you’re going to have a much better time.

This is really good to do before writing any stories on our site. Your author profile is how you’ll represent yourself and your portfolio as a reporter for USC Annenberg Media. From the home page, click the icon for “Authors” in the list of tools on the left. If you don’t see the option to view “Authors,” click the Arc icon in the upper left corner to view the dropdown menu of all tools.

If you think you might already be in the author database—you might have created a bio you want to update, or an editor could have added you to the database without filling in your bio information—search for yourself by putting your name in the Byline field and clicking Search. If you’re already in here, you can click on yourself, make any changes or additions you want and hit save.

If you’re not in the database yet, click the “New Author” button. Fill in the Username field first, using this format: first letter of your first name + your last name, all one word, all lower case. So the username for Tommy Trojan is: ttrojan

Everything but your username can be changed later.

Enter your First Name and Last Name, and your Byline will automatically be filled in. Click on your Byline—trust me, you’ll need to do this—and Arc should now register your name. You’ll know it worked if your name now shows up in the upper left corner of the page instead of “New Author.”

You can leave most of the fields on your author page blank. It will look best if you upload a photo, fill in the author role (use “Multimedia Journalist” unless you have another title) short bio and add your email and Twitter accounts.

Scroll down until you see the Make URL button. Hit that once. We want to see it fill in the Slug field with your byline (should look like tommy-trojan) and the Bio Page URL field like: /author/tommy-test/

There will be a red SITE: message that pops up, that’s fine. Scroll to the bottom of the page and hit Save to save your new profile, then return to the Arc home page.

If you save your new author entry and then try to add more info and save again, Arc will freak out. It thinks you’re trying to create another new author with the same Username. After you hit save once and create a new author entry, you need to go back to the list of all Authors and click on yourself to change or add information.

3) Creating a post in Composer (starts at 6:39 in the video above)

Composer is the main content creation tool in the Arc CMS. Click “Create a New Story” and use the “Default template” template to get started.

Check out how Composer is organized to get situated. There are tabs labeled Planning, Circulate, Compose, Meta, and Featured Image.


Add yourself and any other contributors in the Author field. Start typing a name in, and then select the name from the pop-up box that will appear. The result should look like this, “Staff: Tommy Trojan.”

If it says “Unknown author organization: Tommy Trojan,” then the post you create will not be connected to an author profile, the byline will be broken and you will need to go back and fix this later.


Choose a section for your article here, by clicking “Add website” and selecting a section.


The default story template includes prompts on style for headlines and metadata. So when you create a new story, the headline field will be filled in with the words:

Headline in sentence case, ‘use single quotes’

This is to remind you to not capitalize every word in the headline, and… use single quotes. Delete these prompts and write in your hed and subhead. Please make sure your subhead adds a second detail, giving your audience a reason to read more.

Enter the body copy (main text) of your story below. To insert an element into your story like a block quote or image, create a line break by hitting return and selecting the icon of the element you’d like to insert from the options that appear. To insert Youtube videos, Tweet or Instagram post, use the Social Embed tool and paste the URL of the content you want embedded.

Doing a web post for an audio piece?
Here’s a great example of how you should reformat your script for web publishing.
Don’t worry about the Spotify embed, a producer will help with that. But do start working on the other web elements as soon in the day as possible. Write your headline, upload a featured image, anything you can so there’s not a backlog of work later.
You can use a site like this to convert upper-case text into normal sentence case.
It’s important to optimize your audio story for digital so more people will see your story in search results and can read your piece if they don’t want to listen right then.


Fill out the Description field with two or three sentences that give your audience a reason to click and read more—this will show up on Google news and on preview images on the rest of the site. It’s ok to use your subhead for this.

Add SEO Keywords (search engine optimization): anything people might be searching that you would want to lead to your article, e.g. Kedon Slovis. Add Story Tags for our own internal organization, e.g. sports, football, producer blog.

Again, make sure to delete the prompts that come in the template. These are just there to remind you what each field is for.

Featured Media (starts at 13:36 in the video above)

All posts on our site must have a featured image. All featured images should be landscape, not portrait, meaning they must be wider than they are tall. The best size for images to be is 1440 px by 1080 px.

Select Media Type: Image and Media Key: Basic. Click Add Media to start uploading a photo. Click the “upload images” button in the top right corner, select the Photo Template and click Next. Pick a file and click upload to add it to our image database. Never use images that we don’t have the rights to publish.

Need an image and don’t know where to look?
Check out this resource guide on working with Creative Commons media! Every day there are more open-source options available for us to work with.

Fill out the Caption field, including the credit in the following format: (Photo by Tommy Trojan) if an USC Annenberg Media reporter took the photo, or (Photo courtesy of Tommy Trojan) if we got the photo from somewhere else.

Add Alt Text: this is what is used if a photo can’t be displayed for any reason. Say if it’s a photo or an illustration or a graph, and what the image is depicting in a few words. This is like the image description you will see people post on Instagram.

Once you’ve written a Caption and Alt Text, click “save and return.” Select the photo (the + sign on the photo will become a -) and click select to make it your story’s featured image.

7) Review and Publish (starts at 17:13 in the video above)

Save your post by clicking Save in the upper right corner. Your story can now be reviewed for publication. You can preview how it will look by clicking the Eye icon in the Composer toolbar, note that if you preview a piece once, then make changes and click preview again it will take a little while to register the updates.

Copy the URL from the page in Composer to share with a colleague, editor, professor or coach for review.

About This Site

This is a resource hub to help student reporters at the Annenberg Media Center.

If you’re new to the Media Center, check out this one-page guide to see what it’s all about.

Contact the Media Center

Media Center Director, Professor Christina Bellantoni

Annenberg Media Executive Editor, Tess Patton

Annenberg Media Assignment Desk:
(213) 740-3847

For equipment-related issues:
(213) 740-5739