Public debrief at a glance
CoPress ended in the same way it started: a conference call. Wednesday evening, roughly 20 people joined us on a final debrief call as we explained our decision to terminate operations.
Full audio of the hour-long call can be heard below.
During the debrief, each team member wrapped up a significant takeaway that they’ve gained from being involved with CoPress:
Andrew Spittle, Hosting Director:
“I think the biggest takeaway I’ve found both from working with CoPress and also starting out as the web staff at the Whitman Pioneer is that a lot of things seem sort of intimidating at first … the best thing to do for yourself as an individual and the news organization you work for is to just jump in.”
Lauren Rabaino, former Creative Director:
“The power of collaboration… Aside from the annual conferences we go to, newspaper editors we meet once, we brainstorm and then never see each other again. CoPress provided the platform for us to actually continue that interaction beyond the face-to-face meeting. The community we built was something that didn’t exist before and I think it will continue to exist after CoPress the organization has gone away.”
Albert Sun, Hosting Associate:
“This stuff, it’s not that hard. The best way to go and try something … We didn’t come in just knowing a huge ton about what we’re doing now. It was just a learning process through the same thing, the same sort of process anyone can go through. Don’t be afraid.”
Will Davis, Hosting Associate:
“What I’m really proud of is just really being able to delv into projects and set my sights on finer problems … and really take time to delv into that problem and solve it. For example, Courier was the answer to a problem we had on our website and it was something that CoPress allowed me to do.”
Daniel Bachhuber, Executive Director:
“What I most wanted to see come out of CoPress and what I’m most happy to see happening now is people taking initiative, but then having this community discussion/place/area where people can convene and share knowledge … I’m happy to see that starting to happen finally. That’s what it was all about in the beginning.”
Why is CoPress shutting down?
The question that we received on Twitter and that was echoed in the call boiled down to the cut and dry: Why is CoPress shutting down now?
As Daniel noted, the honest truth of why we’re closing down operations is because the money-making side of our business wasn’t covering the effort we were putting into it and the business wasn’t scaling.
We encourage innovation. We encourage experimentation. We believe that the best way to learn how to code is to build something and break it — and CoPress would have your back to save it. While it’s a great philosophy, it’s not a business model.
“As it turned out, we were answering a lot of stuff for free, meaning we weren’t billing people for it,” Daniel said. “The way we structured our turnkey hosting is that you get full access to the server, you get full access to the software, install whatever plugins you want, and break the site as much as possible and we’ll answer your questions and help you bring the site back up. Our pricing strcuture didn’t reflect that offering in a logical way.”
What services will fill the void?
We’ve learned that the biggest challenge in moving to open source software is how to transition site data and archives from proprietary software. After that process is complete, organizations have the ability to be largely independent.
One option is to open source our transition process and allow other entrepreneurs to sell those services as independent contractors to set up newspapers on third-party hosting.
Even with CoPress’ operations terminated, we’d like to see the network that formed around CoPress continue to rally for innovation. Whether that looks like a Google Group, weekly conference call, forum, etc. is yet to be determined.
It’s time for the community to take ownership.