Newspapers Going Online-Only Should Look at FOSS Content Management

by Ostatic Staff - Mar. 17, 2009

Dana Blankenhorn at ZDNet has an interesting piece up called "The big question really facing newspapers." As many newspapers are moving to online-only presences, because of a severe print advertising market, publishers and editors are having to rethink the whole newspaper business model. Blankenhorn suggests that many papers would be wise to consider open source content management systems for their online efforts. He specifically cites Drupal, which OStatic is based on, and Acquia, which provides a commercially supported version of Drupal. Here's why open source content management makes a lot of sense for the papers, and other publishers.

Commercial content management systems have been favored by newspapers for many years, for many reasons. I used to work at a newspaper long ago, and the editorial processes there were very regimented. The owners of the business would never have deployed a free, open source content management system because of lack of support, training, and more.

However, hard economic times are creating new financial realities for newspapers. Just this past week, the Seattle Post Intelligencier produced its final print edition, after more than a century of publishing. Today's open source content management systems are intuitive, very powerful, can help publish content in many languages, and if support is needed, players such as Acquia, with its commercial support for Drupal, offer flexibility.

Nobody at OStatic has ever needed outside support for Drupal, which we run on, and many other sites, such as Fast Company and The Onion, do fine with Drupal. (We've provided many free Drupal resources here.) It's hardly the only open source content management choice, though. For newspapers and other people considering an open source content management platform, OpenSourceCMS remains an excellent way to take the reins of several different free CMS systems. The site allows you to try Drupal, Joomla, WordPress and many other platforms, and you can spend hours functioning as site administrator, watching video tutorials and more. I expect to see a lot of newspapers moving to these platforms in the coming years, as they make more and more economic and publishing sense.