The $300 newspaper website

IT’S not easy for smaller newspaper publishers to keep up with the digital times – particularly those independents among you who don’t have a template website to use such as Fairfax’s YourGuide pages or News Ltd’s WhereILive, writes Brett Taylor, Editorial Coordinator, PANPA.

But using technology that is freely available, your online presence doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive to implement.

If you’ve been paying close attention to PANPA’s new website and these blogs, you’ll have seen that we’ve done two things.

We’ve launched a website at www.panpa.org.au that hosts all our static pages, and we’ve created a series of blogs on the WordPress blogging system. The beauty is, through a bit of coding by Realview (a member of ours) who built our new site, the content on the WordPress blogs automatically feeds straight onto the main website.

This way, we have content on our main page that is updated daily, and we didn’t have to buy or install a complex system to do it. WordPress is free and the functionality is built in – you just have to sign up online.

Our current set-up is quite rudimentary in that the blog pages are external to our main page and don’t have the same look and feel. You shouldn’t have to navigate away from http://www.panpa.org.au to read our news and blogs. We’ve still got some way to go and that’s what we’re working on next.

If we were to say “here’s one we prepared earlier”, we might point you to: www.borderwatch.com.au, which is the website of the Border Watch newspaper in Mount Gambier, South Australia.

The Border Watch website is run in a similar way to what I described above – the only difference being that they purchased a version of WordPress that has more functionality, for a sum of around $A100. The Watch’s editor, Michael Gorey, says the whole site cost around $A300, including all hosting costs. The final product is a pretty good return on that sort of investment, if you ask me.

If there’s any catch, it’s that it might some time to learn the skills required to build a page. Michael’s new media know-how was the key to designing their site. We’ll be featuring them in the February PANPA Bulletin, and you can contact Michael direct to find out more at editor@borderwatch.com.au.

Another sample worth checking out is the Australian Irish Echo. It’s a simple, basic site that hardly resembles WordPress at all.

The online scene mightn’t be your priority – time or budget-wise – particularly if you’re in a rural area. But with a little bit of know-how and a small investment, you can end up with quite a sleek looking product.

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One Response to “The $300 newspaper website”

  1. Remco Says:

    Especially if you have in-house IT knowledge open source web publishing systems are a great low-cost option. WordPress is indeed one example; another example that is getting more and more popular is Drupal. You will find an interesting thread here:http://groups.drupal.org/newspapers-on-drupal. The publishing systems vendor that I work for is WoodWing and we integrate straight out-of-the-box with this open source web publishing system. We can also easily integrate with other open source web publishing systems like WordPress.

    The only potential ‘snag’ that publishers should be aware of is with regards to open source systems versus commercial systems is that if the open source system is no longer ‘hot’, developers move to the next best thing, leaving the ‘customer’ with a ‘dead’ product. Also any support and warranty is your own responsibility.

    But for small publishers on a budget it is a great alternative to have a credible web presence at a very low cost. Also new and interesting modules are developed at an incredible pace and can be bolted on the existing system very easily.

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