Content on Web sites should be managed using systems that were designed from the ground up for the Web. Traditional content management systems with a legacy of features and workflows used for paper-based print products like newspapers and magazines are unsuitable for Web sites. The future of news media content management for Web sites is in:
- simple & quick workflows
- blogs & wikis as the main content types for text
- social networking & community publishing
simple & quick workflows
Complex editorial workflows make sense for print products (on paper) , where once the edition is done, the content and presentation state is “locked” and sent to the presses. Working with Web content writers and editors over the past decade, I have learned that simple, quick workflows are preferable for Web sites. Many Web site producers who hail from print backgrounds now share the same conclusion that complex content management is a hindrance to successful Web site production.
The concept of an edition of the entire product is not necessary for a content Web site. The atomic unit that can be managed and published together can be a package of articles and multimedia or even just one article. A Web site is a living, dynamic, ever changing collection of content where individual items can be updated whenever required or desired or even automatically based on usage.
To be competitive, content needs to be updated and published quickly. Corrections can be made anytime. Thus for Web sites, the editing and approval process should be streamlined and quick all the way from authoring to posting on the site.
A new concept
The ability of online word processors like Google Docs or WriteWith to enable multiple people to edit a document simultaneously and collaboratively is different paradigm from traditional check-in/check-out access control.
blogs & wikis as the main content types for text
Content management system (CMS) which offers the simplicity of blogs and are extensible via plug-ins to add functionality like WordPress or MovableType, make good foundations of a CMS for a news media Web site.
For revisions, editing history and access control, wiki software works well. WikiPedia and WikiNews, which are powered by the MediaWiki software are two good examples.
The concept of content management systems that combine the agility of blogs and editorial control of wikis is interesting to follow. The term bliki seems to be the leading classification of such products.
In many newsrooms, writers are increasingly using blog posts to publish news articles instead of their enterprise-class content management systems. When asked why, they reply because it is simpler and quicker and they don’t need the overhead of things like complex approvals, advanced version tracking and access controls.
social networking & community publishing
Managing content using a blog or wiki is social networking and community publishing activity. On the readership side, successful social news sites like Digg and Reddit have accelerated the evolution of journalism and readership habits towards the social/community model. The distinction between authors and readers itself is blurring with wikis and comments on blogs.
Social networking features are being added to a variety of Web sites. Going forward, expect to see social networking and community features in content management systems.
Media companies should move to using CMS products that prefer simplicity over complex editorial workflows which were a legacy of writing and editing for print products. A news item, story or blog post should be the same content type. It is likely that blogging products that have proven so successful in empowering talented individuals in competing with large companies will evolve into content management systems with the addition of wiki functionality.
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