WordPress as a cms for journalists

Alf Hermida has a great post on how he beat a tight budget by using WordPress as a CMS system to create a news site for the UBC Graduate School of Journalism.

The site [TheThunderbird.ca ] is run on an installation of WordPress MU, the multiple user version of this versatile software. WordPress offers an easy to use content management system, making it simple for the students to learn how to post stories. WordPress MU can be a little temperamental, meaning that some plugins won’t work with it.

Over the past few years I’ve tried a number of CMS systems to run the online newsdays. Everything from Mambo to a neat piece of software called PROPS. Anything free that would save the students doing too much hard coding of webpages. But it hasn’t been an easy journey.

Looking for a solution

This year we just finished an installation of Avid’s Active Content Manager so we should soon have a pretty hefty CMS but I still needed something quick and easy to fill the gap. I had braced myself for a long hard battle with Joomla. Like othes I was not looking forward to the template work – my experience with joomla forerunner mambo had burned me there. So I bit the bullet and thought that WordPress couldn’t be that hard to tweak. It wasn’t and I know run newsday exercises using wordpress as the cms.

Templates

Like Hermida I came across the excellent Revolution News theme. There are other premium news themes out there as well but thought that $99 would have to come out of my pocket if I wanted to get it done quick. So before taking the plunge I did a bit of searching around.

There are some pretty good free themes around well suited to newspaper/magazine style work. I ended up using the Mimbo theme by Darren Hoyt. I liked the layout and it seemed like a flexible template

newsbiscuit

Plugins

Of course there are number of plugins I use as well.

I’m also planning in using the Role Manager plugin to add an extra layer of control for users.
Overall

It needs some tweaking and I got a little more equated with WordPress template tags than I would have liked (oh, okay, I got a perverse geeky pleasure from making it work). The process for putting up thumbnails images isnt as neat as it could be, but it’s simple and it works. It also seems to be the standard way of doing it in these templates.

So, overall its a success.

If anyone wants to try the version of the template I ended up with, drop me a line and I’ll share.