12/22/2010

College Publisher to start charging and supporting WordPress

Well, folks. I didn’t think I’d see this day coming, although I probably should have: For $4,500/year, College Publisher will host and maintain a WordPress install for college publications.

This is good news and bad news.

But first, a little background. College Publisher is the platform that hundreds of college publications throughout the United States use to host their newsorg websites. Until recently, the only CMS option via College Publisher was CP5, a proprietary and absolutely hideous, antiquated system. I had a lot of beef with College Publisher and when I was involved with CoPress, we helped transition student newsorgs to open source software, primarily WordPress.

Now College Publisher will do the same for an affordable fee, but I still have a problem with their approach.

The good news

Finally, College Publisher is offering an open source solution for news orgs — this is definite progress. They claim to support WordPress, Drupal, and Django-based solutions.

College Publisher is also enabling student newsorgs to take back some ownership on their advertising space on their websites. This is a good thing too, since it will get student newsrooms thinking about how to make money online (a thought process that was hindered when College Publisher took sole ownership over most ad slots before).

But…

The bad news

A simple switch to a WordPress CMS isn’t going to help college publications in a drastically new way. The beauty of what CoPress offered was training and education — a sandbox for experimentation. If CMN is still maintaining these WordPress installs for students and restricting plugin usage to CMN-enabled plugins, what incentive is there for students to build their own plugins and tinker with the back end? If CMN is still essentially controlling the entire process, students don’t get to take advantage of the true beauty that is open source.

But, hey, it’s a start.