Liftoff: First paper to partner with CoPress goes live, open-source

The Whit of Rowan University launched its new Web site this week, becoming the first (dare I say inaugural?) publication online in the CoPress beta hosting program.

Led by the tireless efforts of Miles Skorpen, we helped the student paper jump from the College Media Network (College Publisher) to an independent site running WordPress on our server.

“I’m more than satisfied with the end result,” says Whit Web Editor Emily Kostic. The staff was initially hesitant about the switch, but now, according to Kostic, “Everyone is in love with the new site.”

“I like how it was collaborative with Miles, ensuring that we had a say in what the site would look and feel like,” she added.

Here’s a rundown of the what it took.

Archives. Years of articles from The Whit’s archives were imported, using files provided by CMN. Such transfers of legacy data can be an onerous task, and this one took longer we than expected. But along the way, Miles wrote a script to automate the migration as much as possible, smoothing the trail we hope for future moves.

Look. The Whit’s new design is based on a Revolution Two theme, for an un-bloggish layout. Designer Brian Gardner has unfortunately decided to start charging for these “premium” themes again, just two months after announcing he was offering them for free. We at CoPress were thoroughly unimpressed with the Revolution templates after working underneath the hood. With a growing market of paid themes — see WP Remix and WooThemes, among many others — we’d be hesitant to recommend Revolution.

Backend. WordPress, flexible though it may be, and becoming more like a full-fledged CMS in recent versions, is still basically blogging software out of the box. It takes a slate of plugins and a good bit of tweaking to fit the dynamic needs of a collegiate newspaper. Some inelegant workarounds are required. We’re hoping that adaptation can be made much more efficient.

Our work is not yet done. We’ll continue improving and polishing the Whit’s site. And learning how college newsrooms can better utilize open-source tools like WordPress.

Questions and critiques, as always, are welcome.

8 comments

  1. Jeremy says:

    I was in love with the Revolution2 themes the first time I saw them. You can still find them for free here. They are technically still under an open source license.

    Great work you guys are doing here!

  2. Jeremy says:

    I meant to follow that up with, Revolution looks great, and once I looked under the hood, I also realized how terrible it is.

    There are plenty of free themes that are better-crafted.

  3. Jeremy says:

    And one last thing (Sorry).

    In the spirit of Open Source (although you didn’t actually release the soruce), I’d love to know which plugins you used on this site!

  4. Kevin Koehler says:

    We’re still testing/toying with plugins. When things have settled, and we’re more sure of what’s worth recommending, then we’ll write it up for everyone.

    In the mean time, there’s lots on this topic to be found around the Web. Here’s a start, at least: Bare minimum plugin list and a helpful screencast.

  5. @Jeremy, I’d like to reiterate that we do very much plan on releasing the list of plugins we used. We’ve also written a migration script for College Publisher to WordPress that we will most likely release under the GPL once it’s been cleaned up. This will all come in due time (and will be one of the resources we’d like people to contribute to on our wiki..)

  6. Jeremy says:

    Great to hear!

    I’ve been in love with the idea of WordPress as a CMS for a while. If you CTRL+F search for CMS on my WordPress Toolbox page, you’ll see what I mean.

    I’m excited to hear see where you guys go with this group. I’m really excited by the idea and the work you’ve done so far!

  7. [...] Liftoff: First paper to partner with CoPress goes live, open-source – CoPress The now incorporated CoPress, Inc. launched its first partner newspaper late last week. Check out the blog post to find out more. (tags: collegemedia wordpress hosting copress rowanuniversity) Share and Enjoy:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

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