Green light for Environmental News site

It’s been a while since I last blogged, but it’s only because I’ve been researching my final year university project with such depth!

My aim is to create a fully functional Content Management System (CMS) so that the second year online journalism students on my course are able to access it (ideally from anywhere) and add their stories to it as part of their module.

Frustration

Initally, it didnt all go smoothly. I tried the idea of creating and hosting a local server on my laptop, using Apache, MySQL, and PHP, in that order. I encountered several errors, even though I was being ably guided through the process by two books:

I kept encountering errors as Windows Vista (Ultimate) isnt user friendly, and doesn’t like it when you try and go through the back door.

However, during this process, it wasn’t all frustration. I improved my knowledge of PHP and MySQL, and Apache to a certain extent. When I started the project I had no idea of what these programs were, and how and why they are related.

Now I can safely say that these programs, and their languages, are so popular that they make up for 80% of what is on the web today – these stats are according to the PHP site, so don’t quote me!

Back to the drawing board

However, the project has taken another step forward. After being pointed in the right direction earlier by my lecturer, Paul Bradshaw, I now know how this project is going to work.

Later tonight I’m going to buy some webspace and hosting, through GoDaddy!, and start playing around with Joomla! on there. The aim is to get a fully working CMS for the Online Journalism students to play around with, by mid-next week.

Excellent how-to guides

Two guides I will definitely be taking a look at are New.Journalism.Review, and Andy Dickinson‘s. Both attempted to create similar projects to mine, setting up a news website using a CMS, the only difference in the two being their choice: New.Journalism.Review opted for Joomla! and Andy Dickinson opted for WordPress.

My lecturer, Paul Bradshaw, has another website which he has created himself using WordPress – JournalismEnterprise, and from looking at his and Andy Dickinson‘s, it’s quite clear to see that WordPress is extremely user-friendly – but I’m still more tempted by Joomla! as I have come across what seems to be several million websites with additional features, ‘hacks’, and things to do with it. I’m sure there are just as many for WordPress too.

Keep checking back to my blog for updates on how the project is going, no doubt I’ll be venting frustration several times over the coming months!

Aims

Hopefully, by the next blog, I aim to:

  • Purchase a domain/hosting option
  • Install Joomla! or WordPress
  • Play around with the CMS
  • Have a basic ‘shell’ of the site, so that the students can play around with it in the lecture.
  • Have developed a better understanding of CMS’s and how they work.

But for now, the Green light for the Environmental News website is definitely on, and I’m (potentially) on my way to something quite special.

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5 responses to “Green light for Environmental News site

  1. Thanks for the mention.

    I think Joomla is really powerful but all the techy stuff is hidden below the surface. With wordpress you need to get involved with the code at an early level if you want to do something away from the norm.

    But, as you point out, both have their won large and well supported online communities.

    Whichever one you pick, good luck with the project.

  2. Pingback: Why teach journalism students Dreamweaver? | Martin Stabe

  3. Hi,

    Thanks for the link.

    I really recommend Joomla! There’s a pretty steep learning curve at the start, half the battle is getting the template right. But it’s a lot easier when you’ve got it working fine.

    I recommend Dan Rahmel books for anyone interested in this area. I review it on my site.

    Good luck and keep us informed about how it’s going.

  4. Pingback: 10 Days Later - The Site is LIVE! « NewsWire

  5. Pingback: Launching an environmental news website - four weeks in « Online Journalism Blog

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