What CMS has a strong workflow management for a small newspaper?
November 22, 2006 3:21 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a CMS for a small, online newspaper. I'm not necessarily looking for the front-end, I'm looking for something that can manage the back-end, or admin of the newspaper.

I've been looking at a lot of sites, you can check out the sites i've been browsing here.
I've gone through this posting, and it's sort of similar to what I'm looking for. BUT I'm using wordpress at the moment, and it doesn't include good workflow management.

Basically I want this to happen:
1) a journalist logs onto the site and submits a news story.
- Over here the journalist can decide what tags it is tagged with, if there are similar stories to (related posts), if there are images to include.

2) a sub editor is notified and reviews the submission, and it's send to the workflow process.

This then goes through until the editor finally sees it.
The content is then stored (our print version is on a 2-week cycle), the editor can then pick which stories she wants to include in the print edition.

So basically, it's a CMS to make that workflow easier, with steps included that are easy and nicely visualised. The idea would be that this content then ports to something like Drupal (I'm liking the layout of The Onion). But the main main business of the site is to manage that workflow.

I haven't used eZpublish cos it's damn ugly.
I've never gotten round to using bricolage, it never seems to want to install.
Wordpress is too light, although I like that in a way... There are simply too many plugins to have to install the whole time, but it works nicely. Don't ask me to explain that!
Joomla! is helluva big package. I'm more inclined towards Drupal at the moment as a final publishing system.

Basically, two things: A publishing system that is easy to work with content, manage your frontpage, articles, etc
A strong backend interface with a solid, managable workflow diagram chart thingy.

Also, if anyone has any resources on how the publishing world works that would be great as well! Like, what are all the steps that happens before a story gets published.

And: We are a student newspaper, therefore little $$$, maybe we can get it for free... being skint students in Africa. So all suggestions welcome
posted by Uno to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
It is all about Bricolage.

I work for Virginia Quarterly Review, a small publication that has the same needs that your publication does. I've just finished spending months evaluating CMSs (not continuously, obviously), and Bricolage is far and away the best for publications. Joomla is too much of a toy for our needs, and Drupal just isn't designed for publications. Bricolage was created from the ground up expressly for publications.

It's open source, and it's very good. It's also not easy to install, demanding on system resources, and complex. But the software is just right for your needs, as you describe them.
posted by waldo at 3:59 PM on November 22, 2006

ExpressionEngine is quite powerful and cheap between $100 and $250 depending on license. check out the control panel demo in the link above and you can sign up for a 30 day demo for $10 which comes with full tech support to their online forums which are first rate.

But you'll have to do a lot of customizing on it, which is part of it's power.

In the control panel demo, check out the Edit tab, where you can filter what's in the database based on based on weblog, category and most important to you it seems, status. You can have custom statuses in EE where a journalist only has access to a status that says "finished, subitted to dept editor", which a dept editor can then open and change it to "ok'd by dept editor, submitted to editor in chied" who then opens it chooses the final status of "ok'd" and then and only then is the article published to the web. Also, most of the things that Wordpress uses for plugin are included in EE.

If you have further questions, you can ask to your hearts content the Pre-Sales Questions forum

There are other CMS packages Mambo, Joomla, Textpattern, but I've never used them, though some swear by'em.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:03 PM on November 22, 2006

My understanding is that you really want Bricolage.

If you want another option, though, Plone is also very good at workflow management, multipurposing and XML-fu. I'd find a tame Pythonista to help with the initial stages as and when required.

Not that you should necessarily take that as a recommendation to use Plone on the actual Intertubes: imho putting actual traffic load through it is like trying to piss a Volkswagen.
posted by genghis at 5:17 PM on November 22, 2006

My understanding is also that you want Bricolage, although it was a bit of a pain to set up when I tried a while back.

There's been some talk about integrating a Catalyst front end with a bricolage back-end on the Catalyst mailing list recently, so it looks like a pretty flexible system. Here's a message from the catalyst mailing list
posted by singingfish at 5:33 PM on November 22, 2006

Ellington is an online publishing system designed from the ground up for news and entertainment sites.

It's powered by the free Django Python framework.

Ellington pricing: between $ 10.000 and $ 25.000. Django pricing: $ 0.

More on this subject can often be found at JeffCroft.com, who works at the company behind Ellington / Django / LJworld.com
posted by lodev at 2:54 AM on November 23, 2006

(Disclaimer: I work with the Movable Type team.) I've seen a *lot* of little newspapers all over the place using Movable Type as a general content management system for their articles. In fact, I was at the SF Guardian offices just last week talking to them about that exact idea. There's also some comfort in the fact that a lot of not-so-small papers are using MT for their blogs, including the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and dozens more.

There are substantial discounts for educational use, plugins to provide all the functionality you've described, and a community of other people doing similar projects to talk to if you're looking for tips or tricks. I have a huge respect for Django as a framework, and for the apps built on top of it, but it sounds like overkill for the task at hand. If you've got questions, shoot me an email at anil@sixapart.com and I can put you in touch with the right folks.
posted by anildash at 3:05 PM on November 23, 2006

Response by poster: Shees, awesome! thanks for the replies. I think I should give bricolage a shot then.
I've worked a little with Plone before, our coder guy was a bit sceptical, he reckons a lot of people know basic or little PHP, but not a lot of people know Python, so in terms of sustainability its best to go with PHP packages.

We don't really want a blog, sure we want a blog, but then we could just use wordpress or blogger. We want something that's a bit stronger. I'll give bricolage a try. For some reason I've never been able to get it to install on my computer... oh well, let's try it out!
posted by Uno at 3:48 AM on November 25, 2006

Response by poster: Is there an easy way to install bricolage?
posted by Uno at 6:26 AM on November 25, 2006

Only in Debian and its variants. Not being a Debian guy, I can't speak to that. I just understand that Debian (and Ubuntu, which I think is a Debian derivative) has some sort of a delightful package management system that makes it easy.

If you're not running Debian, it's a bear, and there's no getting around it. It took me about four hours to get it installed on the beta server that I've got it on now, and I'm an old hand at server administration, though admittedly ungood enough at it that I shiver at the thought of any organization relying on me to do so for them.
posted by waldo at 9:56 PM on December 2, 2006

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