I wanted to share our experiences at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism in creating a student journalism website on a tight budget. As most journalism educators will know, there are often few resources or the technical support to develop multimedia websites.
TheThunderbird.ca showcases the work of the students on the core Multiplatform Journalism course that I lead at the J-school.
The site is run on an installation of WordPress MU, the multiple user version of this versatile software. WordPress offers an easy to use content management system, making it simple for the students to learn how to post stories. WordPress MU can be a little temperamental, meaning that some plugins won’t work with it.
As WordPress was designed as blogging software, most of the designs, called themes, look like blogs. Our main challenge was finding a theme that looked more like a news website but was also easy to customize. We ended up going with Brian Gardner’s Revolution News theme, a bargain at US$99 for use on a single website. I was able to tweak the theme, even with a minimal of knowledge of PHP or CSS.
The Audio Player plugin by 1Pixelout makes it simple to insert audio into stories, creating a customizable Flash player.
The Video WordPress plugin by daburna works with just about every video hosting service under the sun and enables you to embed Flash video.
Other useful plugins include:
- Share This to allow visitors to share content via social bookmarking sites
- Shift This to create captions from the alt tag of an image
- Simple Tagging to insert tags on posts
There are still many more things we hope to do with the site. I would welcome comments, suggestions or criticisms.