Is there a distinct type of CMS for “news”?

By Deane Barker

What is a (news) CMS?: Interesting comments about how news organizations need a CMS specifically wired for news. This involves, among other things, abstracting your repository from the presentation layer.

News organizations should instead be “content-first,” and use tools that promote content above all else. We need first-class tools for managing the production process, and then for archiving, analyzing, referencing, and otherwise taking advantage of our past work.

This sounds familiar:

Also related to this, I’ve been thinking lately about the “shape of content.” I tend to visualize content in my head, and I believe news has a different “shape” than other content. While a brochure-ware site may be hierarchical and looks like an org chart, a news site tends to be a long string of content items, stretching off into the distance.

There is no hierarchy to news articles, and they tend to not be grouped together in any particular structure other than perhaps some loose categorization, and some implied structure based on the publish date (“Articles in March”) and tags (“Articles about Barack Obama”).

There are other requirements too:

  • Speed of content production – most news articles these days are quick hits.
  • Lack of workflow. I don’t have firsthand experience in a news room, but I highly doubt there’s complicated workflow going on.
  • Good support for drafts and local “work areas.” One writer may have dozens of articles in various states of development.
  • Solid administrative search and other tools for scaling up the admin interface. Admin tools that work well with 100 pages fall apart completely with 20,000 articles. (Hint: no one is going to browse the repo 10 items at a time looking for something.)
  • Quick, efficient categorization and tagging, which includes tools for helping authors find references and inferences between one article and another.

So, I agree that a “news CMS” can be a different animal. There are parallels in blogging, so you see a lot patterns coming out of the bigger blogging platforms.

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