Survey of CMS Usage on Newspaper Websites

As of this month, 25 percent of all websites are using WordPress, according to W3Techs survey. This ubiquity was one of the leading factors in choosing WordPress as the platform for Snowball. Of course Snowball’s main target are news organizations and journalism students, which raises the question of how closely this general 25 percent figure tracks with newspaper websites.

It turns out, not much at all.

Collecting the Data

To survey CMS usage among newspaper websites, I analyzed the websites of the top 100 newspapers in North America according to 4IMN, which ranges from the New York Times to the Knoxville News-Sentinel. I also took a look at websites for 100 exemplary college newspapers, based on a list from the Journalism Degrees blog with the substitution of Drexel University’s The Triangle (gotta represent!). The analysis was done in November 2015.

To determine the CMS run by each website, I used several online tools including BuiltWith, WhatCMS, and CMS Detector.

When these tools didn’t suffice, I fell back to manual inspection and online research. In a number of cases, this was still not enough.

The Results

Among the top newspaper websites, WordPress is the most identified CMS, though at 11% it’s less than half the general rate. The rest of the numbers reveal a balkanized landscape. Drupal is the next most common, followed by 20 other different CMSes. For the remaining 62 websites, the CMS could not be identified. These “others” might be using yet another CMS platform or a custom solution, but we can be reasonably confident that they’re not using WordPress.

I’m somewhat surprised at the low figure for WordPress. Perhaps this is due to news orgs being entrenched with legacy systems, having very particular business needs, or fear of open source. WordPress is best known for its ease of use, but it has also proven its mettle with a number of world-class news websites.

The numbers for college newspapers show a very different picture. WordPress makes up a full 68%! This is followed by Blox, Gryphon, Drupal, etc. WordPress dominates a much more homogeneous scene.

This supports our argument that building Snowball as a WordPress plugin is the most effective way to reach a large audience of active journalism students.

As a next step, it would be interesting compare small newspapers to these two groups, but I haven’t found a good way of identifying these yet.

Appendix

Here’s the raw data used to calculate these numbers. If you can provide any information on the missing data points, please reach out.

Top Newspapers

Newspaper CMS
The New York Times Other
The Washington Post WordPress
USA Today Gannett CMS
The Wall Street Journal Other
Los Angeles Times Other
The Examiner Drupal
Daily News Atex PoloPoly
Chicago Tribune Other
The Globe and Mail WordPress
New York Post WordPress
Houston Chronicle Other
The Hollywood Reporter Drupal
The Christian Science Monitor eZ Systems
The Toronto Star Adobe CQ
The Boston Globe Other
The Chicago Sun-Times Other
The Washington Times Other
The Philadelphia Inquirer Other
The Onion Other
San Jose Mercury News WordPress
The Denver Post Other
Star Tribune Other
The Dallas Morning News Other
The Seattle Times WordPress
The Oregonian Other
National Post WordPress
Newsday Atex PoloPoly
The Miami Herald Other
The Baltimore Sun Other
The Plain Dealer Other
The Sacramento Bee Other
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Other
The Hill Drupal
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Other
Detroit Free Press Other
Orlando Sentinel Covide
Boston Herald Drupal
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Other
The New York Observer WordPress
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Other
The Kansas City Star Drupal
Seattle Post-Intelligencer Other
The Vancouver Sun Other
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Other
The Orange County Register OpenCMS
Deseret News Other
The News & Observer Other
Salt Lake Tribune Other
Hartford Courant Mezzanine
Express-News PencilBlue
Toronto Sun Angel LMS
The Montréal Gazette WordPress
The Buffalo News Eduwave
The San Diego Union-Tribune Other
Times Union Other
The Indianapolis Star Other
Investor’s Business Daily Other
The Tennessean Other
Ottawa Citizen WordPress
The Charlotte Observer Other
The Record Other
Las Vegas Sun Other
The Tampa Tribune Other
St. Paul Pioneer Press Other
The Des Moines Register Other
The Oklahoman Other
Calgary Herald WordPress
Contra Costa Times Other
Austin American-Statesman Other
Las Vegas Review-Journal Other
The Daily Princetonian WordPress
Fort Worth Star-Telegram Other
The Morning Call Other
The Patriot-News Other
The Palm Beach Post Other
Daily Herald Other
The Republican sNews
Anchorage Daily News OneTool
The Province Other
The Courier-Journal Stiqr
Edmonton Journal WordPress
The Spokesman-Review Other
The Detroit News Other
The Florida Times-Union Other
Los Angeles Daily News Other
Winnipeg Free Press SchoolWires Centricity
Metro IronPoint
Star Advertiser Other
The Press-Enterprise Drupal
Daily Press JoomD
The State Other
Omaha World-Herald Other
The News Tribune Other
Democrat and Chronicle Other
Chicago Reader CiviCRM
Miami New Times Other
The Blade Other
Sarasota Herald-Tribune Other
The Wichita Eagle Other
News-Sentinel Liferay

College Newspapers

Newspaper School CMS
The Lantern The Ohio State University WordPress
The Daily Aztec San Diego State University WordPress
The Daily Gamecock University of South Carolina Gryphon
The Anchor Rhode Island College WordPress
The Oxford Student Online University of Oxford WordPress
Cardinal Points Plattsburgh State University College WordPress
The Guardian University of California, San Diego WordPress
The Daily Titan California State University, Fullerton WordPress
The Heights Boston College WordPress
The Post Ohio University Blox
The Vermilion University of Louisiana at Lafayette WordPress
NYULocal New York University WordPress
Clarion University of Denver WordPress
The State Press Arizona State University Gryphon
The Houstonian Sam Houston State University WordPress
The Daily Iowan University of Iowa WordPress
The Minaret University of Tampa WordPress
CU Independent University of Colorado WordPress
Minnesota Daily University of Minnesota Drupal
The Hawks’ Herald Roger Williams University WordPress
Old Gold & Black Wake Forest University WordPress
The Johns Hopkins News-Letter John Hopkins University WordPress
The Famuan Florida A&M University Other
The Campbell Times Campbell University WordPress
The Vermont Cynic The University of Vermont College Publisher
Student Life Washington University WordPress
The Spectrum North Dakota State University WordPress
The Sentinel Kennesaw State University WordPress
Daily 49er California State University, Long Beach WordPress
The Telescope Palomar College WordPress
The Herald Arkansas State University Blox
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Racquet University of Wisconsin-La Crosse WordPress
The State Press Arizona State University Gryphon
The Kenyon Collegian Kenyon College WordPress
Central Florida Future University of Central Florida Gannett CMS
The Daily Reveille Louisiana State University Blox
The GW Hatchet George Washington University WordPress
Los Angeles Loyolan Loyola Marymount University Blox
The Advance-Titan UW-Oshkosh Blox
The Berkeley Beacon Emerson College Other
Flyer News University of Dayton WordPress
The Triangle Drexel University WordPress
The Chronicle Duke University Gryphon
The Georgetown Voice Georgetown University WordPress
The Emory Wheel Emory University WordPress
The Ball State Daily News Ball State University Gryphon
Iowa State Daily Iowa State Blox
Royal Purple News University of Wisconsin-Whitewater WordPress
The Bona Venture St. Bonaventure WordPress
The Chaparral College of the Desert WordPress
The Shorthorn UT-Arlington Blox
The Chicago Maroon University of Chicago WordPress
Central Michigan Life Central Michigan University Gryphon
The Commonwealth Times Virginia Commonwealth University WordPress
The Daily Barometer Oregon State University Blox
The Daily Californian UC Berkeley WordPress
The Daily Orange Syracuse University WordPress
The Daily Tarheel University of North Carolina Gryphon
The Daily Texan University of Texas at Austin Drupal
Daily Trojan University of Southern California WordPress
The Daily University of Washington Blox
The Daily Eastern News Eastern Illinois UniversitySchool: WordPress
The Daily Mississippian University of Mississippi WordPress
Campus Times University of Rochester WordPress
The Battalion Texas A&M Blox
The Daily Cougar University of Houston WordPress
The Stanford Daily Stanford University WordPress
The Cornellian Cornell College WordPress
The Tech Online Edition Massachusetts Institute of Technology Other
The Pendulum Elon University WordPress
The New Perspective Carroll University WordPress
The Rensselaer Polytechnic Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute WordPress
The Louisville Cardinal University of Louisville WordPress
Spartan Daily San Jose State WordPress
The Fine Print Gainesville Florida Blox
The Pitt News University of Pittsburgh WordPress
The Daily Cardinal University of Wisconsin-Madison Blox
The DePaulia DePaul University WordPress
The Exponent Purdue University Blox
The Dartmouth Dartmouth College WordPress
Yale Daily News Yale University WordPress
The Brown Daily Herald Brown University WordPress
The Daily Pennsylvanian University of Pennsylvania Gryphon
Columbia Spectator Columbia University Drupal
The Harvard Crimson Harvard University Other
The Cornell Daily Sun Cornell University WordPress
Fourth Estate University of Wisconsin – Green Bay WordPress
The Diamondback University of Maryland Blox
The Tech Talk Louisiana Tech University WordPress
The Temple News Temple University WordPress
The Sentry Robert Morris University WordPress
The Michigan Daily University of Michigan Drupal
The News Murray State University WordPress
The Argonaut University of Idaho WordPress
The Arka Tech Arkansas State University WordPress
The Bucknellian Bucknell University WordPress
The Rebel Yell University of Nevada Las Vegas WordPress
Luther College Chips Luther College WordPress
The Colonnade Georgia College & State University WordPress
The Concordian Concordia College WordPress

3 comments Write a comment

  1. Great post—thanks for sharing!

    I lead the VIP business at WordPress.com, and can help fill in a few holes in the data. These sites are all on WordPress, so it looks like WP’s share of the top 100 is closer to 11%:

    – National Post (the homepage is not yet, but the rest of the site is)
    – Montreal Gazette
    – Ottawa Citizen
    – Edmonton Journal
    – Calgary Herald
    – New York Observer

    whatcms.org confirms all of those, except for the first given the homepage quirk 🙂

    • Thanks Paul for the additional data points. Always good to get it straight from the source! Re-checking the list, I found one more site using WordPress (Daily Princetonian). I’ve updated the post with these corrections.

  2. Hi there,
    I think it is interesting for this article because there is an option for journalists and newspapers called http://www.opennemas.com
    It is a SaaS (online) solution so editors don’t need to buy a hosting. The best, tech knowledge is not required to work on it.
    It is free with more than 20 modules and more than 30 templates available.
    Hope this help.
    Regards

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