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I’ve added three new plug-ins to the site based on some browsing through the CoPress WordPress plug-in wiki page recommendations. I hope these plug-ins will add to the usability of the site. Please leave a comment or send me some feedback if you like or dislike them.
Print Friendly: This plug-in allows you to reformat the text in a format that doesn’t waste paper when you want to print out a blog post for future reference or handouts or whatever. Often, when I print out a blog post on someone’s blog, the header, footer and sidebars get printed as well as the actual content. This wastes paper with stuff you don’t need or want in the printed version. The button is at the bottom of the post.
Twitter Tools: I’m trying this one out to see how it works. This is supposed to integrate Twitter into your admin area of a WordPress site, so Twitter will be updated when you publish new content. It also shortens URLs using bit.ly, adds hashtags, and excludes categories.
Finally, just a reminder: At the bottom of each post is this button:
This button allows you to suggest edits, grammar and spelling corrections to the post author using Editz (formerly known as GooseGrade). Feel free to use it if I make a mistake. I will regret the error.
Quite a few college publications made upgrades to their web sites over the summer. As I am able, I’ll post a link to sites with new designs or new backend systems. If your site has undergone a makeover, drop a line in the comments or via e-mail to scmurley-at-gmail.com, and I’ll post something as I hear.
Also, we’re always looking for additional voices to share their experiences about innovation. If you would like to write about what’s going on at your school (adviser or student journalist), let me know and we’ll talk. It’s a great way to connect with a larger community, and a chance to get your name out before your peers and industry leaders. (/end shameless promotion)
The Arbiter at Boise State switched from College Publisher to a WordPress installation to start the school year.
The Daily Tar Heel also moved to their own hosted site, using a custom-built version of Drupal. The Tar Heel had a tragic breaking news story – afraternity president was shot and killed by police – on the first day of classes, which tested their new web site.
The Arizona Daily Wildcat didn’t switch platforms – staying with College Publisher – but they did redesign their site and work on their news flow. Web Director Bryan Roy said, “we’ve completely overhauled and relaunched DailyWildcat.com this semester. Not only is it a fresh look with lots of extra features, we’ve also restructured our newsroom workflow. It was certainly a lot more overwhelming than originally anticipated (getting ads and business staffs on the same page) but obviously it’s a challenge all college newspapers are trying to solve.”
More to come …
Lots of stuff to catch up on this week as school starts.
First off, CoPress launched a new version of their website last week. You can check it out here. They’ve updated their hosting plans and support services as well. For schools who are working with WordPress installations, this is a handy contact to keep in the bookmarks (disclaimer: I serve on the board of directors of CoPress).
Update II: here is College Publisher’s response – ed.
Update: Full disclosure – Lauren’s newspaper, the Mustang Daily, is partnered with CoPress and after her CICM internship, she will join the CoPress team.Â
Since the Mustang Daily switched from College Publisher to WordPress two weeks ago (through CoPress), my inbox has been flooded with questions about the process. For all of you out there who still have lingering questions, this guide should provide all the answers .
The decision: Should you or shouldn’t you?
If you answer “yes” to one or more of the following, then you’re ready for the switch:
- Tired of not controlling your primary advertising spots?
- Wish you had an intuitive, user-friendly interface to work with?
- Ready for your site to not look like the hundreds of others in the college media world?
- Want it to be quick and easy to change the look, feel and content of your site?
A CoPress post entitled Can WordPress solve our College Publisher woes? from late September summarizes it nicely:
It (College Publisher) hasnâ€™t been an open, adaptable system that allows students to truly innovate. You canâ€™t open up the hood and fiddle around, or even replace the tires, because you donâ€™t own the car. CP just lets you borrow it, in exchange for taking the profits from those gargantuan ads. Thatâ€™s their business model, not necessarily a bad one for all customers, but inherently limiting.
If you’re in the same boat — and sorry for making assumptions, but you probably are in that boat — then now’s as good a time as ever to move on to a better system.
(If not, then I’ll quote an old inspirational poster clichÃ©: “Change is not necessary. Survival is not mandatory.”)
(Full disclosure: CICM intern Lauren Rabaino is the online and multimedia editor for mustangdaily.net).
Today marks the end of one long journey and the start of a new one for me as the online editor of the Mustang Daily. Even before I was online editor, I had a vision of making the Mustang Daily’s Web site something spectacular, and that vision has come full circle with the launch of our new WordPress site, hosted and supported by CoPress.
The Mustang Daily has been with College Publisher since 2006 when CP bought over New Digital Media. Since the launch around 11 p.m. yesterday, a common question is, “How long did the switch take?” Here is a brief timeline:
- December 2008: I first heard about CoPress via Twitter and instantly DMed them for details
- January 2009: E-mailed CoPress informing them that we were “very seriously” interested in joining
- Late February 2009: Acquired access to our College Publisher archive
- Late March 2009: College Publisher database transfer was complete; we started working on customizing our design
- April 2009: Official launch
About four months after I first heard of CoPress, my the new site is up and running. That’s a quick turnaround (thanks CoPress).
The switch goes far beyond design. Structural changes that come with the new site:
- Hired an additional copy editor
- Rescheduled the copy editors to work day shifts (and shorter night shifts) so we can post web-first
- Trained all reporters and editors to post straight to WordPress (instead of e-mailing articles and saving them on our server)
Now that I don’t have as much responsibility for posting articles, I plan to spend more time working with reporters to develop high-quality multimedia. With full control of the site, you can also expect to see more web-only content (see my earlier post about features I’m working on).
This is an effort that takes a different approach from the dominant business model in college news hosting, that of College Publisher. Whereas College Publisher hosts web sites for “free” and generates income from selling national ads for premium placement across their network, the CoPress model is paid for through an upfront monthly fee, with the college media outlet selling its own advertising stock.
And with the economy in dicey shape, college media need to get serious about generating more income from diverse sources like the web site. Some are doing more along these lines, but there’s a long way to go for most.
If nothing else, putting the hosting of the web site into a budget as an expense might give colleges some incentive to push online ads where now they are likely neglected (the Daily Eastern News has no online ads at the moment, so I’m preaching to my own paper here).
The fact that the hosting plan is offering a WordPress install means there’s a large number of people and technical support available out there to assist with problems (in addition to the CoPress team). The CoPress team can even help transition College Publisher archives into the WP format.
I doubt the CoPress effort will pose a serious threat to College Publisher’s business right now, but it’s another option for college media to consider, and that’s always a good thing.
I’ve been a proponent of this business model for a couple of years now, but it’s been a challenge putting together the pieces to offer this type of program. Now, it’s good to see this effort coming from committed journalism students.
I hope some advisers come on board and offer support where needed. Miles Skorpen at Swarthmore is heading up the hosting part of CoPress, and he definitely knows his stuff.
Others noting this announcement:
Ryan Sholin: Iâ€™ve had a chance to talk, chat, and tweet with some of the students and recent graduates behind CoPress over the last few months, and I think theyâ€™re clearly the sharpest minds in online student media right now.
Dan Riemold:Â CoPress seems to be the future. It is determined to make student news sites that are student-friendly and UNIQUE to each and every outlet and campus. The results of its efforts of course are still pending but the (CoPress) team oozes passion, relevant experience, and new media sensibilities.
Greg Linch (a CoPress leader): But, whereas our situation allowed us to make the move on our own, many school papers donâ€™t have a server or the technical know-how to make such a move. Or, if you do, you can avoid a possible headache (particularly in transfering your College Publisher archives) with a little help from your friends. Thatâ€™s where CoPress comes in â€“ we can do all that.
If you’re interested in a fuller explanation of CoPress, you can listen to this podcast interview I conducted with Kevin Koehler in October.