ProsePoint Express: hosted newspaper website content management software

Designing/building a new website for a small daily newspaper

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2 replies [Last post]
User offline. Last seen 6 years 50 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 10/01/2010

In November of last year, I was hired by the daily newspaper; I've worked there before -- three times since 1999 (I kept getting laid off and then asked to come back!) -- so this is my fourth "tour" at the newspaper.

This time, I was given the job (1) because I've worked at this newspaper and I know the staff and how the entire process works, (2) because I've lived in this town for more than 20 years; I have a pretty good sense of the "personality" of the community, and (3) because I have certain technological skills and knowledge -- such as website design, videography, and a comfort level with new technology (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, and other social media).

However, it was immediately obvious to me that including any new technology in our website would be pointless; the design of our site is years out of date and  nearly impossible to revise -- not to mention, expensive, since we have to contact the company that hosts and designed the site and ask them for the changes we want. And most of the time, the changes don't turn out nearly as good as we'd hoped.

So I began researching other CMS options -- especially open-source. I have been a freelance graphic designer since 1993 (part-time, to supplement my income from other jobs); in recent years, I have discovered the joys of open-source software -- I have been using WordPress extensively for blogs on various subjects, and I love being able to adjust and expand and modify a WordPress site with plug-ins, and it costs me nothing!

I eventually decided that Drupal would be a good option for us to consider; then I discovered that the company that hosts my personal/business site offers Drupal as part of their package. So I installed Drupal into a subdomain and began experimenting with it.

I soon discovered the steep learning curve required to get beyond the basic level of Drupal. I began wondering if there might be a better alternative. I  began expanding my research -- and discovered OpenPublish. Which turned out to be a nightmare to install on my shared hosting account ... but after a couple of weeks of trial-and-error, I finally figured out a working solution.

But OpenPublish had as big a learning curve for me as Drupal had; I was ready to tear my hair out trying to figure out how to get it to work and how to adapt it into something that would work for our newspaper.

So I did more research -- and discovered ProsePoint,. It installed seamlessly on my shared hosting account on the first try; I chose the "demo" variant so I could see how the site worked with prepopulated content. It took me less than a week to figure out most of the major features -- including time spent installing a custom theme, tweaking the CSS and the templates, and beginning to create my own content.

Two weeks ago, I finally had the chance to mention to our publisher that I'd come up with a workable alterative to our current CMS. She scheduled a conference call with the necessary people at the corporate office (which is on the other side of the country). The conference call took place last week; I presented my case for using ProsePoint. The corporate folks took a few hours to think it over, then called us back that afternoon and gave us the go-ahead.

We had another conference call on Monday of this week; in that meeting, the corporate folks gave me a team, including a project manager, a tech lead, and a couple of designger/programmers. But all those folks are in the corporate office -- a couple thousand miles away. The only people I have to work with locally are my fellow employees at the newspaper -- primarily our in-house graphic designer, who does not have nearly as much experience with or knowledge of website design as I do (and I'm self-taught, so there are still gaps in my knowledge).

So it's still primarily my project. The tech lead installed ProsePoint Monday night and set up the "development" site, as they're calling it; yesterday, I took the custom theme I'd created for my own personal test site in ProsePoint and copied it over to the development site for the newspaper website. That step alone saved me hours and hours of work, as I didn't have to duplicate all the trial-and-error work I'd spent on my personal test site.

In the eyes of the media syndicate that owns us, we are a "test site" for using Drupal/ProsePoint. If this project goes well, they may decide to use Drupal for other newspapers. In that case, I may end up needing to share my process with other newspapers.

So I have started a weblog, where I am cataloging as many details of this process as I can; I'm also keeping a daily record for myself (and for anyone else, such as the project manager, who may want or need it) of the steps I'm taking -- by writing them all down in Microsoft Word douments.

However, I have only been giving out the weblog URL upon personal request; I'm not making it publicly available because I'm also using it to catalog resources (articles, blogs, etc.) I find online that address the area where newspapers and Internet tecnnology meet (newspaper websites, pay walls, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). And as I catalog those resources, I sometimes include my own thoughts and opinions -- which don't always follow the "party line" of the media syndicate that owns our newspaper. I don't know if I could be fired for expressing my opinion on my personal blog (even though I'm not naming any names) -- but I'm playing it safe for now by not releasing the URL publicly.

However, once the new site for our newspaper goes live (hopefully, some time in February), I will definitely post a link in the ProsePoint sites section of this forum.



Digital media designer and webmaster for a small daily newspaper

User offline. Last seen 4 years 41 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 27/02/2009
Thank you for posting this.

Hi Katrina,

Thank you for posting this. It is gratifying to hear when Drupal/ProsePoint helps someone out. I hope your choice turns out to be a success for you. All the best.