Looking for a CMS for your student newspaper?
How Much Does It Cost to Run Our Own Web Site?
Depending on the level of support from your college or university's Information Technology group, you may be able to set up, run and maintain your site for no more of a cost than it takes to produce your print edition. Open source software designed for newspapers, like PacerCMS, revolves around the people responsible for content (your editors) posting their material online. You may wish to designate one person or a group of people to aid that process and continue to develop your online edition. In short, your costs are determined by how much you pay your staff and what hosting options you select.
I Really Want Our Site To Be Hosted Off-Campus
If your relationship with the IT services department is less than positive, your newspaper is financially and editorially independent of the institution or you are not averse to spending a bit on a new Web site, the cost is still quite low. First, choose a hosting provider. We recommend that this decision not be taken lightly, because the level of service you receive from your hosting provider is critical to your success on the Web. In your communications with a potential provider, share with them your goals for the Web site and have someone review the technical requirements for your chosen software. PacerCMS requires a Web host running an Apache or compliant Web server, PHP 4.2 or greater and MySQL 3.23.23 or greater.
What About a "Dot Com' Address?
Yes and no. If you opt to use your campus Web servers, you will not need to pay for any kind of domain registration. In fact, having a "dot edu" address at the end of your Web site's host name will dramatically increase your search engine rankings compared to your typical "dot com" or "dot net". If you do decided to purchase a domain name, work with your hosting provider to register and set up the domain name.
What About College Publisher or New Digital Group?
Marketing professionals have identified college newspapers as prime targets for creating an online network of syndicated content and an expansive user base. That is why these companies have invested heavily in recruiting and enlisting newspapers to increase their market share. You can spot these sites right away because most use a stale layout, interchanging a few graphics here and there to match the host institution's school colors and insignias. With these services, you give up the prospect of bringing in online advertising dollars (these companies often keep 100 percent of the revenue, and even local companies have to contract through them) or building a bit of originality to your Web presence. In the case of College Publisher, you have to pay a hefty per hour charge if you want to go beyond the basic starter package, and you must send them tear-sheets of your newspaper every time it is printed with as much as a half page of free advertising to promote the Web site and in turn their advertisers.
What About the Next "Cool" Feature?
The fantastic thing about open source projects is that they are flexible enough to meet and exceed your expectations for an online publication. Need to add a blog just for your columnist? Just add WordPress. Want to manage an online archive of your staff's photos and graphics? Just add Gallery. Even if you are not opting for PacerCMS, we believe that the solution you are looking for can be found in the open source community.
"Open Source" Sounds Like Marketing Fluff
Open source simply means that the software and services found under its banner are developed by a community of programmers, graphic artists, copy writers and promoters. Most projects, including PacerCMS, operate transparently so that you can follow along with the development cycle and contribute feedback.
PacerCMS is only one of many options you have for publishing your newspaper's content online. We hope our perspective helps your decision making when it comes time to bring your publication to the Web. Keep up the good work.