MediaNews Group is Embracing WordPress But Dropping Comments

MediaNews Group is a major publishing group across the United States. They own over 100 newspapers and 200 other publications.

Their newspapers reach from California (Orange Country Register and Marin Independent Journal) to Florida (Orlando Sentinel and Sun Sentinel). They’re also all across the Midwest (Twin Cities Pioneer Press and Morning Sun) and the North East (Pilot Online and The Saratogian).

Apart from their owners, what do all these newspapers have in common? They all run WordPress.

Click here to see a full overview of the MediaNews Group properties. With a couple of exceptions, that list is entirely powered by WordPress. The sites have a standard layout with a mix of ads and subscriptions. Once you see one design like the Marin Independent Journal below, you’ll immediately be able to recognize more MediaNews Group websites.

MediaNews Group, Cost-Cutting, and Comments

I came across the MediaNews Group embrace of WordPress after reading that The Boston Herald and The Denver Post were both about to close their comment sections.

Many MediaNews Group newspapers use to run comments on their WordPress sites, but those days may be coming to an end. Viafoura has partnered with WordPress VIP in the past and is a popular choice for enterprise users who want a WordPress comments section.

Why are some MediaNews Group sites removing comments? The Boston Herald say it will make their website faster. The Denver Post says that the comment section is “an uncivil place that drives readers away”.

Dan Kennedy has some thoughts:

It turned out that comments were embraced mainly by the most sociopathic elements. Some publishers … required real names, but that didn’t really help. The only measure that ensures a civil platform is pre-screening — a comment doesn’t appear online until someone has read it and approved it. But that takes resources, and very few news organizations are willing to make the investment.

Yes, it’s probably about the lack of civility and the lack of money to solve that problem. MediaNews Group has a reputation for aggressive cost-cutting.

Sometimes this cost-cutting is a smart business choice. I’ve no doubt that migrating all their newspapers to one WordPress platform is cost-effective. MediaNews Group makes a lot of acquisitions and it almost always migrates the new properties onto their WordPress platform. MediaNews Group does share some WordPress projects on Github.

However, the darker side to that cost-cutting is job losses. MediaNews Group often reduces the number of journalists and backroom staff at its newspapers.

More Publishing Groups Using WordPress as a Platform

A good number of publishers are building new private WordPress platforms being built by publishers such as MediaNews Group, Penske Media, Meredith, and Schneps.

There are also organizations that are making their WordPress publishing platforms open to the public. These include Newspack, Lede, Paywall Project, and more.

WordPress and Comments

If you have a membership site based on WordPress, most plugins will allow you to restrict comments to subscribers. Both Leaky Paywall and and Paid Memberships Pro can do this.

The default WordPress comments system can be improved. You can customize which users are allowed to moderate comments and allow authors to moderate comments on their own posts.

About the Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *