CEGP seminar: putting campus newspapers online

Among the things that I’m really passionate about is encouraging student publications to go online. Not only is online publication cheaper than dead-tree publishing, it’s also very easy to pull off right now because of the existence of easy-to-use content management systems.

Online campus journalism also allows student publications to go beyond the one-issue-every-few-months-or-so publication cycle typical of campus papers.

I discussed online journalism with members of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines yesterday and I was a bit surprised that in a group of 20 plus participants, only two have blogs. I had expected more bloggers in the group, in fact I assumed more than half would have blogs.

I wanted the discussion to be brief so that participants could focus more on trying out various CMS, including blog scripts, that they can use for their campus publication. Sadly, though, there was no access to the Internet and I had to shelve my planned exercise in putting up a website that’s very easy to maintain.

For those who attended the seminar, here are notes and links that we discussed yesterday:

WordPress.com: This should be your first choice if you want to put up a blog (even a group weblog with multiple authors since it already allows multiple user accounts to a blog). It may not offer users the ability to edit templates (not yet, anyway) but it has a lot of great looking designs to choose from right now.

Unlike Blogger.com, WordPress.com allows you to split your articles so that you can just post a teaser paragraph in the home page and provide a link to the full article. In Blogger, you article is printed in full in the home page. WordPress.com also allows you to create static pages for such things as an About This Site section.

WordPress script. This is the script that you can download and install in a PHP/MySQL server. The advantage of installing WordPress in your own server is that you can do extensive customization on the design and the way the script serves content.

You can, by editing the template files, choose to display only news items in your home page and leave the feature articles or opinion pieces in a separate page. If you want to test WordPress, you can use a free PHP/MySQL hosting account with 100Webspace or Fil.ph.

This is the web hosting company I use for this site and it offers very affordable packages. If you do decide to sign up with them, leave me a note and I might be able to help you in the setting up of the site although they provide excellent tech support.

This is more complicated to install but it is a content management system for traditional news websites.