Tagged: 'innovation'

A case for innovation in college newsrooms

We hear it over and over again – “Innovate, innovate, innovate!” But what does that really mean in the context of newspapers, and why is it necessary? Let’s start by stepping back to see where newspapers went wrong.

Like we’ve mentioned before, the newspaper industry is a lot like the railroad industry, which essentially stopped growing because it didn’t transform its mindset. Because they failed to see the train as a part of the transportation business, they lost their customers to highways and airlines.

Newspapers are falling into a similar trap, but college media can change course before it’s too late. We should be the ones experimenting and taking risks. The students should be leading the way.

To quote Jason Calacanis, “Innovation is all you have. Once you stop innovating you lose your talent and you lose the race. Never. Stop. Innovating. Never. Never. Never.”

What is innovation really, though? Innovation is experimenting and taking risks. Innovation is trying what’s radically new.

After you take a look at the video above, be the innovator in your newsroom. Play it at your next staff meeting, e-mail the link to them or even post it to their Facebook walls. We have an entire series of videos coming for you in the following weeks to help your entire newsroom understand how to step ahead.

We Clicked On: Get to work

We’re changing things up! Our choice of the best links of the week are now at the top of We Clicked On (via the CoPress Publish2 Newsgroup):

The most notable news of the week, however, is that Greg taught me the stylistic considerations of headlines and subheads.

Activity around the network

In the forum this week, Joey asked the crowd about their editorial workflows within WordPress. Lauren Rabaino left the lengthiest answer, explaining in detail how the Mustang Daily is currently operating their web-first workflow. Writers upload their documents into WordPress, and then the editing happens within the CMS. The information about these interactions is managed in a Google Spreadsheet.

Read more →

Ask Courant News About Their New Django CMS

Clarification: Courant News is being developed as a side project of Max Cutler, Robert Baskin and Paul O’Shannessy — independent of the Yale Daily News. It will eventually become the Yale Daily News’ CMS.

Tomorrow at 5 p.m. Eastern (Tuesday, May 5th) Emily and I will record a new episode of This Week in CoPress with Max Cutler and Robert Baskin, discussing their Courant News CMS project. Courant is an open-source Django CMS that Max has blogged about extensively on his site. We’ll talk about main features, the installation process, theme capabilities, and what their vision for the future is.

We’ll be hosting the call on Skype. If you wish to call in, please contact me with your Skype name or phone number at greg [at] copress [dot] org. You will be added to the call and be able to ask questions.

We’re trying this as a higher quality alternative to BlogTalkRadio. Let us know what you think. We’re also still looking at ways to stream it live, so please leave ideas in the comments. Thanks!

As always, the full podcast will be available here on the blog on Wednesday.

A Brand New, Drupally Daily Illini

CICM deserves the hat tip for this one: earlier this week, The Daily Illini, a student newspaper at the University of Illinois, launched a brand new website built from Drupal:

You’ll notice immediately on the home page some of the new features we have introduced. The goal was to provide more entry points to our content, something we felt our old site failed to accomplish. The “What’s new” box highlights the latest information and will update as soon as new content is posted on the site. Additionally, the ticker at the top provides links to other recent stories, giving you easier access to the most up-to-the-minute news.

On the right-hand bar, you can find stories that your fellow readers are looking at, commenting on or recommending to help you decide what the most interesting news of the day might be. Scroll down, and you’ll notice our multimedia has been beefed up as well, something you should see throughout the site. Not to jump ahead, but the multimedia page itself is filled with interesting stories told in non-traditional ways. We hope you enjoy the videosphoto galleriesand audio slideshows presented in a much friendlier manner.

Our individual section pages are broken down much the same as before — NewsSports,OpinionsDiversions — however, the pages themselves are completely revamped. Not only are they better organized to look like individual home pages, but they are also divided by content in the tabs at the top. So if you’re hoping to find the most recent UI news, click the campus tab. Looking for the latest info on Illini basketball team? Go to the men’s basketball tab. All our content throughout the site is sorted how we think you’ll most easily find it.

All and all, these are what seem to be pretty cool updates (I can see that Albert has already asked about newsletter software). +1 for having a development blog too.

This Week in CoPress: Changes Coming to Online Student Media

Host: Greg Linch and Emily Kostic

Guests: Andrew Dunn, the incoming Editor in Chief of UNC’s The Daily Tar Heel (with appearances by Adam Hemphill, Bryan Murley, and Albert Sun)

Summary: Greg and Emily discuss with Andrew The Daily Tar Heel’s upcoming CMS, training staff, and video/audio equipment. In addition, Adam, Bryan and Albert weigh in on college newspapers’ commitment to the web.

Related: Weekly Forum Discussion – Changes Coming to Student Media

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

This Week in CoPress: Steve Buttry and Restructuring the Gazette

gazatteiowaHost: Greg Linch and Daniel Bachhuber

Guest: Steve Buttry, Information Content Conductor for Gazette Communications

Summary: Greg and Daniel talk with Steve about the radical organization restructuring at Gazette Communications, what the specific changes will be and how it will affect operations, and how some of the lessons learned thus far might apply to student media.

Related: Weekly Forum Discussion – Restructuring your organization

Subscribe: iTunesRSS

We Clicked On: Mixing Up Print and Online

The best piece of news this week, in my opinion, is that News Mixer will be working on WordPress integration. That’s right, the sweet piece of commenting goodness originally launched as NewsMixer.us and recently announced to be integrated with the Populous Project will be coming to the world’s most popular blogging platform and overall Swiss Army Knife.

Around the Network

In the forum this week, Greg asked about strategies for making your print edition an online feature. The idea came out of a Twitter conversation between Greg and Dane Beavers at The Oklahoma Daily, and the specific questions were:

  • After you complete a print edition, do you put a PDF or other such version of it online? Why or not?
  • If you do, is it useful? What kind of traffic does it get?
  • If you do, do you upload as a PDF or using a third-party service such as Issuu or Scribd?
  • If you do, do you tell advertisers that their ads are viewable online?

Read more →

We Clicked On: Rebuilding the News

I’m a day late on this post, but there were some epic developments this week that I feel I have to share.

Around the Network

We kicked off a lively discussion in the forum on Monday asking, “What are your website goals for the rest of the semester?” A number of great ideas have surfaced from the community. Some highlights from Josh Halliday‘s response:

  • Work on cross-promotion of our student-run University radio station – perhaps an app on the homepage, or even its own separate page?
  • Print more posters for on-campus advertising/recruiting
  • Greater attention to our online community – MORE CONVERSATION, perhaps recruit a ‘community manager’ to maintain Facebook page, Twitter account etc.

There were dozens of other goals posted, so be sure to take a look. Read more →

Livestream: CoPress at BarCamp NewsInnovation UM

Tune into CoPressMogulus channel, embedded below, on Jan. 24 at 2 p.m. EST (1 p.m. CST) to see Joey Baker, Albert Sun and I speak as part of BarCamp NewsInnovation at the University of Missouri.

Unfortunately, no one from CoPress could travel to Mizzou, but we’ll be there virtually.

Be sure to participate in the chat and ask questions – we’ll answer as many as possible.

Please share the link via Twitter, Facebook, IM, e-mail, etc. Thanks!

This is cross-posted at Greg Linch‘s site.

Questions from the updated KNC08 application

Yesterday I took an hour or so to synthesis one thing I’ve been working on, the Organizational Development Roadmap [Google Doc], in to responses that better fit the questions on our Knight News Challenge application. Right off the bat, Ryan Sholin responded with questions I thought it would be easier to clarify in a blog post. First, he says:

1. OK, you need two years and more money.

The first year, you can roll out a prototype school or three in the fall, a few more in the spring, and by the time the next summer rolls around, you have a service you’ve taken a school year to develop and improve before you bring it out on a larger scale.

To this, I partially agree. Currently, we’re asking for $70,000 from the Knight News Challenge and have a time scale of one year. I am opposed, at the moment, to asking for more money than I think is necessary. We have little understanding of what our costs will be (plus I’m sure they will scale over time) and the other applications in the garage that have asked for hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions, seem outlandish. I don’t want CoPress to be taken as an outlandish project.

For me, the one year qualifies the amount of time it will take to build part of something cool. CoPress, by no means, would be “finished” at the end of the first year. A year, though, sounds good for project scope and two years sounds too long.

Second, Ryan asks:

2. Other than it feeling warm and fuzzy, being based on open-source software and thus extensible, what’s the advantage to a student news org to use this instead of College Publisher? It’s free, and hosted, and if you ever get enough traffic, there’s a rev share on the national ads, right? How is this different. (I’d emphasize that it will be built on a platform that students can learn and adapt to their own needs, right?)

Boy, do I ever agree with you. As I’ve written before and before, “hackability” is critical. Student news organizations need to be working on an open source platform (or, bowing to Kevin, Ken, and Expression Engine, at least one with a plugin architecture) so that they have the ability to innovate as fast as they can. If anyone tries to argue with me that student news organizations don’t need digital distribution platforms they can innovate with, I won’t listen to you. The software College Publisher uses is, from all of my experiences, clunky, janky, and proprietary. We’ll win people over when we show them we have an easy-t-deploy, maintainable, and open and innovate platform to use. Hell, we’re friendly too.

At the moment, we’re not working on a national ad network, although ability to deploy ads will be functionality we provide in some capacity. I’ve heard rumors that there is another group working on the ad coop, however.

3. If you’re going to offer hosting, that’s going to cost money to maintain after a News Challenge grant would run out. What’s the business plan moving forward? And if you’re not going to offer hosting, what super-easy-to-install platform are you going to build the service on?

(WordPress or Drupal? Maybe… An Ellington-like Django-based CMS would actually be difficult, unless the student news orgs in question all have access to and control of their servers.)

The business plan is being worked out. Currently, we’re looking at a few different potential revenue streams:

  • Fee for service: core CoPress developers offer technical support (database porting, site theming, temporary support if you don’t have an online editor for a term, etc.) for affordable rates.
  • Flat rate fee for basic hosting, management, and support
  • Grants and donation drives; foundation support
  • Using The Point for raising money for plugins/add’l functionality; money raised will fund development by a web developer from the CoPress community

And it’s funny you ask about what platform we’re going to use. We’re in the process of researching the best one for our needs through our surveys and CMS audit. We’ve developed a list of what we think is critical functionality [Google Doc], and are in the process of researching how well Drupal, WordPress, Django, and/or Ruby on Rails could be hacked to fit these needs.

The million dollar question:

4. One of the winners last year is building a CMS/community network tool (plus some front-end print scheduling?) for student media. How is this different (hosting? other services?) and why is it (also) necessary?

Ryan, I think what you’re referring to is the Populous Project. We actually were talking with them about a month and a half ago, but haven’t heard anything since. What we’re doing is similar in the CMS sense (although we preferably won’t be building an entire CMS from scratch) but different in approach: we’re focusing on the technical ecosystem first. The medium to long term survival of CoPress requires a vibrant ecosystem of student Online Editors, etc. because they’re going to be the ones hacking away, educating and supporting each other, and advancing innovation in student news.

We’re working together in an open, transparent, and collaborative fashion, and that’s how we’re different.

Update: Oddly enough, the CoPress Google Group received an email from one of the Populous Project grantees a couple of hours ago in regards to why we shouldn’t consider Ruby on Rails. Hopefully we’ll hear more about their development soon.