ONA 2008: Starting from Scratch – Las Vegas Sun


Josh Williams, new media projects editor, Las Vegas Sun

Tyson Evans, design editor, Las Vegas Sun


(There has been a lot of discussion of the Las Vegas Sun site online, but here is a tour from two guys who helped create the site.)

They launched the new site using Ellington (Django-based) on Jan. 10, choosing that date to capitalize on the national attention around the caucus. They previously had no videos, no blogs and no comments.

They are only an eight-page paper daily. They had no guidelines when they started redesigning the site.

Videos are 998 pixels wide; you can download in standard or hi-definition.

Videos are fully integrated into their content management system. They mostly shoot video on the Panasonic HVX200.

Photographers only have to upload photos and audio — CMS automatically creates slideshow.

Panoramic feature that features different audio depending on where you navigate in the panorama.

There is a feature built into the CMS that allows Web producers to pull something directly from YouTube or Flickr and embed on the site.

They’ve avoided the broadcast model in doing Web video [their videos are pretty sweet].

What’s next?

They are preparing for video to move to an IP-distributed system (look at the Ethernet jack in the back of your digital cable box). Also, they’ve partnered with a local TV station because they know most people in the city are getting their news on TV, not in print.

Check out

How did they do it?


  • Javascript, Google Docs, Linux, API, Djano, Python, RSS, CSS, XHTML, Final Cut Pro, Ajax, HD video, Flash, etc.

“Agile Development”

  • Semantic, accessible and standards-driven
  • Separating content, logic and presentation
  • Software that fosters quick creation
  • Etc. (too many to type here)


They brought production, editorial and programming people together and do it all in-house. They showed a diagram to display how the 40-person team came together.

Production people almost never enter CMS — they create the apps for the content gathers to use.

They update the software everyday.

They aren’t tied to any old legacy programming technologies, such as ASP or PHP.

Advice for student news site

  • Evans: Look for open-source solutions, such as WordPress.

UPDATE (Sept. 13): Check out Mindy McAdams’ post about the sesssion.

How we did it: Moving The Miami Hurricane from College Publisher to WordPress

This post also appears on the Innovation in College Media blog.

The question we’ve heard most often since launching the new TheMiamiHurricane.com is, “How did you do it?” Below, Webmaster Brian Schlansky offers a comprehensive explanation of the process, from setting up our own Web server to installing WordPress to importing our College Publisher archives.

For more background, check out these posts:


Greg Linch
Editor at Large for Online and Multimedia
Former Editor in Chief (fall 2007 to spring 2008)
The Miami Hurricane

To contact me, visit www.greglinch.com or e-mail greglinch[at]gmail.com.

Continue reading How we did it: Moving The Miami Hurricane from College Publisher to WordPress

We have lift-off! The new Miami Hurricane site is live

The redesigned TheMiamiHurricane.com is now live! No big surprises, if saw the beta site. Lots of big surprises if you missed the beta.

For an idea of what was going on right when we launched, check out my Twitter account late Sunday night, beginning a little before midnight: twitter.com/greglinch.

Webmaster Brian Schlansky (Twitter) has written an in-depth account of the technical side of the entire redesign process, which will be posted on the Innovation in College Media blog and republished here. I plan to introduce the post with an overview from my perspective of leading the project.

Finally, I’ve drafted a long list of people to thank, which I will post here as well. Thanks again to everyone!

Weigh in: What do you think of the new site?

Related Posts

College Content Management social network

Last Saturday night I created a social networking site using Ning called College Content Management.
I’ve seen the power of Wired Journalists and NextNewsroom during the past few months and those served as my inspiration.
The idea floated around my head for a few weeks, but it was not realized until after I talked with Megan Taylor, online managing editor at The Alligator and Kevin Koehler, contributing editor (basically the online editor) at the Old Gold & Black at the NextNewsroom conference last week.
We talked extensively about each of our content management systems:
It became clear to me that there’s a desire among Web editors to share ideas, and gripe about their CMSes and, the day before I flew back home, the group was born.
The slogan: Because we all have to deal with a CMS.
The description: Do you have a Web site for your student media organization? “Yes.” Mine does too. We should work together.
So, come one, come all student journalists, editors, advisers and anyone else who uses or manages a university/college news site.
And be sure to spread the word. I plan to start searching the Web for online editors’ e-mail addresses to invite them, but any help would be much appreciated.

The CMSes they are a-changin’

Using a blogging platform for a Web site?


After first planning to use Drupal, we’ve decided that it is no longer the best option for TheMiamiHurricane.com‘s new content management system.

So, (drumroll), we’ve decided to go with WordPress.

Why? In short, it is the better overall, long-term option. More reasons/details to come in a future post.

I’d like to thank Sean Blanda from Temple University. Sean’s insights and advice — via his blog, a session at the CMA conference in NYC that our news editor and adviser attended and an e-mail response to visuals editor Will Wooten — helped us feel more confident in our final decision.

Some background: I started reading Sean’s blog during spring break, particularly intrigued with the posts about the Temple News‘ experience with WordPress. Ironically, a day or two after reading some old posts, Will e-mailed me and brought up the idea of using WP after doing his own separate research.

Besides Temple, the Sagebrush at University of Nevada Reno also uses WordPress.