News of the World dead, that's OK - all press going open source online

Reports suggest that this weekend saw the demise of a UK Sunday red top newspaper. While some will lament and bemoan the demise of this so-called British institution, it is of course natural wastage on the evolutionary path towards online news dissemination powered by open source technologies.

Is that too strong a suggestion for you? Well then, allow me to explain.

Truism #1 – Newsrooms to face tougher economic challenges and more challenging workflow issues than ever before.

Truism #2 – Stories now need to be written for a more live, dynamic, potentially changeable publishing medium. So writing from the ground up for paper-based publication is not necessarily good sense.

Truism #3 – Open source document management and content management tools now exist to bring tangible cost savings to bear.

The Daily Telegraph restructured its newsroom to work within something of a “digital edition that happens to also send to print once a day” concept. So this is the way of the world now.

Writing on O’Reilly radar, publishing specialist Jenn Webb explains the story of the Bangor Daily News, which recently replaced Its CMS with Google Docs and WordPress (and a heavy dash of InDesign too it should be noted).


Todd Benoit, director of news and new media at the Bangor Daily News told Webb, “Like many newsrooms, until very recently we were production heavy because we had to be. Moving stories to the web was a copy-and-paste affair, but that’s not where the trouble started. If you begin with a print-directed front-end system, as we did, how does that system accommodate a story being updated from the field? Or how would the full possibility of story assets land online, to be chosen among for print? Even simpler: When do reporters add links? The answers, as countless journalists know, are: It can’t; they won’t; they don’t. From there, it’s all production, not creation.”

Food for thought? I hope so. A better UK publishing industry without the News of the World? I dearly hope so. More open source and online tools in publishing? Yep – I hope for that too.