Knowledge Bridge

Global Intelligence for the Digital Transition

//Kevin Anderson /may 24 / 2013

Five must have WordPress plug-ins for news organisations

WordPress has grown from being a capable, very easy-to-use blogging platform into an incredibly flexible, all-purpose content-management system that comes in several variants to meet the needs of most publishers.

It has proven to be a powerful and flexible platform for news organisations attracting major publishers including the New York Times, CNN, Forbes, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal.

WordPress has a hostHostAny computer on a network that offers services or connectivity to other…//read more  of features, and if a feature isn’t part of its core functionality, there are literally thousands of plug-ins that can deliver the editorial features you require. The challenge isn’t finding a plug-inPlug-inA program application that can easily be installed and used as part of a Web…//read more  or theme to suit your needs but finding the right ones amongst the thousands of choices. To help speed the search for the plug-ins you require, we’ll look at a few key ones that are frequently used by news outletswhich use WordPress.

Define your editorial needs first

When choosing a CMSCMS (Content Management System)Software tools or web services for creating and amending website content.…//read more , the first thing you will want to do before even thinking about which CMS to use is to outline your editorial requirements. You might be able to do everything you want, but it is important that your editorial strategy drives your technical choices rather than thinking about the technology first.

Armed with your editorial requirements, you can then look for plug-ins that deliver these features. While you can have several plug-ins, don’t get carried away. Too many plug-ins can slow down the performance of your site, and you will want to make sure that the plug-ins work well together. That’s a key thing to ask your developer or development contractor to evaluate.

Useful plug-ins for news organisations

EditFlow – WordPress began as a blogging, a personal publishing, platform, and what works for an individual or a small group focused on self-publishing doesn’t meet the needs of an editorial organisation that has a workflow and a process to ensure that what is published meets its editorial standards.

EditFlow is an excellent plug-in that adds many elements of a traditional editorial workflow to WordPress. It adds custom article statuses such as pitch, pending review and subbed that allow you to track where stories are in the editorial process. It adds editorial comments so that journalists and editors working on stories can leave feedback and questions on a story, and the system can email journalists or copy editors when the status of a story changes.

It also adds an editorial calendar to give editors the ability to plan what content is going to be published to the site and when, and also to add to your future planning. You can also see upcoming stories in a story budget view to take to planning meetings. It’s an excellent, almost essential, addition to WordPress for news organisations.

Liveblog – The liveblog format has become a popular way for news organisations to cover rolling news events live on their sites. The format is not only popular with news businesses, but is also popular with audiences. When an earthquake and tsunami devastated parts of Japan while half a world away the events of the Arab Spring were reshaping Middle Eastern governments, Al Jazeera English was at one point running four live blogs, and it accounted for a quarter of the traffic to the site. Automattic, the company behind WordPress, has developed a Liveblog plugin that delivers a lot of functionality such as the ability to easily update the article as well as auto-refresh of the article for your audience so they always have the most up-to-date content.

Co-authors plus – Another plug-in from the developers of EditFlow is Co-Authors plus. Blogging software didn’t anticipate that articles could be written by more than one person or that you might have guest contributors who aren’t on staff. Co-authors plus allows you to have multiple authors for a story and it also allows you to create guest contributors without having to create a user account for a contributor who might only write one article.

Category order – Categories can be an easy way to add site navigation to a WordPress site, but originally, categories were only ordered alphabetically on simple blogging sites. The category order plug-in allows you to easily reorder categories simply by dragging and dropping them.

Google Analytics for WordPress – Knowing your audience is key to sustaining your news organisation. It will sharpen your editorial focus and allow you to more effectively market yourself to advertisers. Google Analytics is just one tool to measure your audience and learn more about them. This plug-in allows you to easily add Google Analytics to your site.

That’s just the start. There are plugins to manage advertising, sudden bursts of traffic and the security of your site. For those of you using WordPress, what plug-ins have you found most useful? Were there any plug-ins that you used, but looking back you wish you hadn’t?

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