Drupalization of Augusta

The new Augusta Chronicle website is now live, the latest in a series of conversions of Morris websites to a Drupal-based system.

Before and after

As I mentioned last week, there's a companion mobile-optimized site for smartphones, and if the browser detection is working properly, you'll go to http://m.chronicle.augusta.com/latest-news/2010-01-27/apple-introduces-s... automatically if you request http://chronicle.augusta.com/latest-news/2010-01-27/apple-introduces-sin... with a Blackberry, iPhone, Droid, et cetera.

But it's not just about technology. The reason we're moving to Drupal is to create an interactive environment where members of the community and everyone in the newsroom can engage in a broad civic (and, we hope, civil) conversation and contribute content in appropriate ways. In the old world, the Web was a specialty and most reporters and editors had limited access to the tools; in the new world, any staffer and any member of the community can post directly into the system with appropriate access controls.

I've written previously about the importance of context in evolving a journalism that conveys meaning to time-pressed citizens. One of the tools we'll be using for that is topics pages that frankly are modeled on those of the New York Times: a synoptic overview of the topic, links to incremental news coverage of the topic, and links to related Web resources. In an early brainstorming meeting with the Chronicle's newsroom, an entire wall was quickly covered with ideas for topics trackers. The Godfather of Soul is a well-executed example.

The Chronicle has one of the more active commenting communities among local newspapers I see. It's not always a pretty sight, but executive editor Alan English @aenglish09 has declared that comments will be "assertively moderated."

As with previous rollouts of the Morris Site Management System, this one comes with user profile pages

Major Drupal modules used in this project are predictable: CCK, Views, Panels, Imagecache, and so forth, plus a few that are new to us, including Context. We've written a few as well that may find their way into the Drupal contrib collection.


Steve, This is what I'm seeing when I try to hit the site: ERROR The requested URL could not be retrieved While trying to retrieve the URL: http://augusta.sms.morris.com/ The following error was encountered: Connection to Failed The system returned: (111) Connection refused The remote host or network may be down. Please try the request again. Your cache administrator is root.

Corrupted database table at precisely the wrong moment. Ops is on it, should return to life shortly.

I'm the webmaster for 41WMGT-TV (a Morris station) and we just completed our conversion to Drupal at the start of the year. I wish I know about Morris Digital Works beforehand, it would have made the convincing of management to switch to Drupal easier! I'd really like to swap war stories with you sometime, I'm guessing you'll have my email address from the form. Thanks, Kerry Hatcher

... you work for Morris Multimedia, which is owned by Charlie Morris, and I work for Morris Communications, which is owned by Billy Morris. We actually compete in some markets (notably Savannah). But you're certainly welcome to hang around in the Newspapers on Drupal group, which started out with newspapers but includes people building sites for broadcast media as well.

Well that makes sense, I just know him as "Mr. Morris", and I knew he owned some newspapers ;). I was wondering how I didn't know about you guys. Well either way your sites look awesome and a sure boost to us Drupalers, keep up the great work! I'll be sure to keep an eye out for you at any nearby Drupal Cons. I know you mentioned Context any thoughts on http://drupal.org/project/opencalais/ ? Mostly I'm trying to get in touch with more "local" Drupalers so far the only other one I know of is Trae McCombs who revamped the City of Macon's site into Drupal. Thanks, Kerry

You may have seen this already, but there is now a Drupal case study of the Augusta Chronicle on drupal.org.