You are browsing the archive for software.
The UC-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism has released a mobile reporting guidebook with reviews and ratings for a variety of software and hardware. It’s available as a PDF and as an iBook. The iBook features sample clips and screencast videos from various software and some of the capture hardware. This is similar in some ways to the Mobile Reporting Tools Pocket Guide Will Sullivan and crew produced at the Reynolds Journalism Institute a while back.
The iBook version also showcases some of the things you can do with the interactive book format.
As Lauren Rabaino notes at 10,000 Words, it’s iPhone-specific. So if you have an Android, not so much, although some of the hardware and software is not device-specific. Students helped produce the guidebook.
This guidebook was the result of a mobile reporting class at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and is the work of Casey Capachi, Evan Wagstaff, Matt Sarnecki along with instructors Richard Koci Hernandez and Jeremy Rue.
UPDATE JULY 2012: Detroit Softworks is no longer in business.
It’s been two years since I did a round-up of hosting options for college news sites. In the wake of the recent discussion of the Online Pacemaker Finalists, I figured it was time to take another trip around the field to see what’s out there.
And, a disclaimer: This is not a “critical review” of the different options. Each option has its pros and cons, and every college media outlet has different needs and resources. If you want to know more about a particular option, contact the companies listed. I’d also encourage you to ask around at other college media outlets who are using these options.
I want to start off with the hosted options. All of these will cost money, usually a set-up fee (for training, design and database transfer) and then a monthly subscription fee (for maintenance, tech support and other costs of maintaining a server). The content management system (CMS) is hosted on server space provided by the company. The other side of that coin is that they do not necessarily exercise any control over the ad spaces on the site, or the ad revenue.
College Publisher: College Publisher just announced a new version of CP5 called CollegePublisher Pro. Since the last round-up, College Media Network changed ownership and updated its revenue sharing model for advertising. They will charge if you don’t have a certain amount of traffic to your web site. And they also offer a server option where you can park your WordPress install.
Detroit Softworks: Detroit Softworks hosts the Gryphon CMS, and has 15 client newspapers, according to a list on their website. There is a monthly subscription and a set-up fee for the service. It is a hosted solution, meaning the content is stored on DS servers. SEE THIS POST FOR UPDATED INFORMATION ABOUT GRYPHON CMS.
TownNews: TownNews is the content management system company that runs the online sites for newspapers in the Lee Enterprises newspaper chain. The CMS itself is called Blox. It is a hosted solution. There is a one-time setup fee, and a monthly subscription. The subscription fee varies based on the size of the news outlet.
School Newspapers Online: SNO started out as a solution for scholastic (aka high school) newspaper sites, and has expanded into the college market rapidly since last I wrote about this topic. They now list 58 college newspapers as clients. They offer a hosted WordPress solution. The costs are spelled out on their site: $600 for first year (including set-up) and $300/year after that.
Ellington CMS: The Ellington CMS, originally created for the Lawrence Journal-World’s web offerings, is another hosted service. Its college media penetration is not sizable. The system is built on top of the Django web framework.
When I wrote about this topic in 2010, Alloy, an advertising and marketing company that aims at the college market, had started providing a hosting solution similar to what CoPress provided. The set-up was much like what you would find on any commercial hosting service, except they hoped to offer some added benefits to college media in the future (like an ad network, for instance). The basic cost was $250/mo. plus a set-up fee. I am not certain that they are still providing this service, and my e-mail asking for further information has received no response yet. I will update as information is available.
That about covers the hosted solutions that are out there in the college media market. I know of a few college media outlets that have partnered with a local professional newspaper to host their sites. But that situation varies so widely that it’s probably not an option for the majority of news sites.
Host Your Own
The other option is to host your own content management system, whether using an off-campus server host, or an on-campus server. There are literally hundreds of hosting services out there, so I won’t even pretend to make a recommendation in that area. Most of them have a one-click install system for installing a variety of open-source software, for the less technically inclined.
The most commonly used open-source (i.e., free) CMS’s are:
WordPress: This seems to be the most popular open source platform for college media outlets. It’s highly extendable, relatively easy to use admin area with lots of options, and a number of premium themes which break the traditional blog-style format. It’s based in php and (normally) MySQL database. There is an extensive community of developers to help out if you need technical support.
Drupal: My impression is that Drupal has more popularity among professional news outlets. It’s also based in PHP and an SQL database, but has a steeper learning curve than WordPress. One of the things that makes this system popular is its emphasis on community site engagement, which it had long before WordPress incorporated those features. It also has a very active development community. The site has a list of case studies of web sites built on the platform.
Joomla!: Joomla! is a robust CMS that comes at site management from a different perspective than WordPress or Drupal, and it seems to have heavier adoption in other commercial arenas. At one time, the CMA web site ran on Mambo, the previous version of Joomla! and it was relatively easy to run the basic admin templates.
Finally, there is Django, which is a web framework and not specifically a CMS. Repeat, it’s not a CMS. It’s built on the Python programming language, and it is the framework that undergirds the Ellington CMS, for one. The framework is used to power a pretty impressive list of database-driven sites. It’s open source, but you’ll need a server space to host it
The Associated Collegiate Press announced their list of 2012 online Pacemaker finalists yesterday. There are 55 finalists, and lots of familiar names. Congratulations to all the nominees.
Beyond that, I’m always interested in what’s going on under the hood, in the “CMS Wars!” So, I went through the entire list, looked at lots of source code and page footers to find clues, and identified all but four of the sites’ CMS’s. Previously, we looked at these numbers from 2008 and 2009. In 2010, I commented on the CMS’s used by the winners.
The results for the finalists this year are below, and somewhat astounding:
WordPress powers 53 percent of the finalists, far more than any other CMS. Meanwhile, College Media Network, once the largest player in college media site hosting, is only powering two of the finalists.
There are obvious qualifiers in this data: it’s highly selective, non-representative of the broader college media web environment, and, as I’ve said before, the best CMS won’t put lipstick on bad journalism.
Also, WordPress is an open-source CMS that you host on your own server location, as is Joomla and dotnetnuke. TownNews (Blox) and Detroit SoftWorks (Gryphon) have hosted, proprietary CMS’s and cost significantly more. Ellington is also a pricey system. Surreal CMS is a hybrid, cloud-based CMS that costs a small amount per month. And django is a web framework, not a CMS.
This is not a knock on any of the systems, either. I’m from the “whatever works best for you” CMS school. They all have pros and cons.
BUT, here’s an interesting bit I did discern from this small sample of college journalism outlets’ web sites.
Smaller outlets are more invested in WordPress.
Since the CMS is “free” (you still have to pay for or arrange hosting and tech support), it’s more financially feasible for small sites. As you can see from the chart below, the larger the enrollment, the more likely the outlet was to have another system beside WordPress.
Larger sites are more likely to spend on a hosted solution or a custom framework.
Notice how the penetration of WordPress goes down at the larger newpapers? Detroit Softworks shows up only among schools with over 20,000 enrollment, TownNews only above 10,000. (Disclaimer: The Daily Eastern News online site runs on TownNews’ system). These schools are more likely to attract programmer/journalists, and also more likely to have the funds to invest in one of the hosted suppliers.
Now, this is little more than a thing of interest, and something to peek at a population to see what’s going on. It would be good to have a look at all the CMS’s of the news outlets that submitted entries. I’ve reached out to Logan Aimone at ACP, and although I can’t look at which schools entered, he’s going to see about getting me the data on CMS use. I’ll keep you posted about that.
And one final note about this: Whether you are a Pacemaker finalist or not, how about giving your site visitors a way to find out what system you’re using? Even just a note in the meta of the source code. It is frustrating to have to peck through playing Sherlock Homepage when your coders rename the wp-content folders, or you take out the metadata that indicates you’re using a CMS (the hosted systems are more easy to detect). The best site for this was the Maneater at the University of Missouri, which had an actual colophon! If you’ve done your own system, maybe put it on the “About” page, with the name of the developers who worked on it.
Here’s a spreadsheet of all the finalists and the CMS they use, where available.