Many of the observations I wrote last year still apply. However, there are a couple of numbers that stand out, and I’ll discuss them below.
But first, the caveats:
- The use of a particular CMS says ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the quality of the journalism produced by these sites. I keep track of this because it’s something that interests me, not because I’m suggesting you use one CMS over another.
- The numbers here are for the finalists for the ACP Online Pacemakers, which means it’s a very small pool, selected by a set of judges that varies from year to year, based upon content that varies from judging period to judging period. A more accurate picture of CMS usage would be to analyze the entire set of entrants in the Online Pacemakers. I asked for that information last year, but never received it.
Now that I have that out of the way, here are the numbers:
WordPress gains ground
As you can see, WordPress is now running the vast majority of sites named as finalists. Last year, it powered 29 of the finalists (54 percent), and has shown a significant increase. The Blox (TownNews) and Gryphon (SNWorks) CMS’s are essentially unchanged. Last year, Blox powered three sites and Gryphon powered four. The difference this year comes from the lack of off-brand or roll-your-own sites. This year, a plurality of “big” school sites run on systems other than WordPress. One site, TheChannels.org of Santa Barbara City College, is a client of School Newspapers Online, which has a hosted WordPress environment.
Certainly, one reason for the abundance of WP-based sites is the fact that it’s an open-source platform that can be hosted on any server space and it’s relatively easy to maintain. TownNews and SNWorks are both adding to their client list regularly, but the sheer number of media outlets running WordPress would tend to result in an overrepresentation among the finalists.
I’ve only recently begun keeping this data, but I noticed a couple of schools that had switched from one system to another, and will try to make note of that information in the future.
Where is College Publisher?
The College Media Network CMS powered only two of the finalists last year. This year, they are entirely absent from the finalist count. Once the dominant platform for college journalism content online, the company has clearly lost its influence. What caused that loss of dominance is another story altogether, but I don’t expect them to return to their former glory days any time soon.
Share your CMS information
I’m repeating this again from last year, because it’s worth repeating: Whether you are a Pacemaker finalist or not, how about giving your site visitors a way to find out what system you’re using? Even just a note in the meta of the source code. It is frustrating to have to peck through playing Sherlock Homepage when your coders rename the wp-content folders, or you take out the metadata that indicates you’re using a CMS (the hosted systems and WP systems using a commercial theme are more easy to detect). The best site for this was the Badger Herald of the University of Wisconsin, which had an actual colophon!
Here is a list of the finalists and CMS info in spreadsheet form, sorted by category.