Six must-have WordPress plugins for newsrooms

by Lauren M. Rabaino

Last year, the Online Journalism Blog brought you 85 plugins for blogging journalists. I’ve narrowed my own selection down to six plugins, not necessarily for individual journo-bloggers, but for any newsroom with an active WordPress install — whether it be a full site, or a niche blog.

1. WinerLinks

Paragraph-level permalinks should be natively built into the web, but since they’re not, WinerLinks is the interim solution. WinerLinks is a plugin that adds an anchor to the end of each paragraph, which serves as a permalink to that particular paragraph. You can see the concept in action on sites like Dave Winer’s Scripting News (the inspiration behind the plugin’s name) and PressThink. Even Om Malik is using the plugin on his personal blog.

If readers want to be able to reference a particular part of your post, they can point to the permalink. Later, if a writer wants to point back to a quote used by a specific person in a specific post, pointing directly the paragraph is brainless. The more context you can provide to your readers, the better.

Disclosure: The creation of this plugin partially unfolded on my personal blog after designing PressThink.

2. Matt’s Community Tags

You may remember Mark’s post last week about photo tagging as journalism’s next big social experiment. Well now you can manage your own photo tagging through a very early-release WordPress plugin created by Matt Mullenweg himself, called Matt’s Community Tags.

From the plugin description: “Very beta, in this version the intention is for this to allow a moderated community to assist in tagging primarily photographic content, image attachments and such.”

Hat tip to Automattic’s Andrew Spittle for pointing me to this one

3. EditFlow

EditFlow helps you streamline your editorial workflow within WordPress by expanding upon native WordPress features, turning WordPress into a comprehensive content management system for newsroom processes. For example, take a look at how the plugin lets you manipulate the simple statuses feature within WordPress:

Here are the full list of features:

  • Custom statuses
  • Editorial comments
  • Email notifications
  • Usergroups
  • Calendar
  • Editorial metadata
  • Story budget

Disclosure: I was involved with the organization that originally built this, but am pretty far removed now.

4. Feedback by Paragraph

Although this plugin could use some updates, it’d be useful for a newsroom or blog to experiment with. Similar to WinerLinks paragraph-level breakdown, Feedback by Paragraph allows users to give comments at the paragraph level. Adapted from NewsMixer, it adds a new level of accountability and could be an interesting way to view reader sentiment toward a story based on how much feedback is given to each paragraph (for example, a point of controversy or an error would could be obviously called out simply by the mass amount of comments associated with a certain part of a story).

From the plugin website, it’s great for:

  • Leaving corrections and clarifications on any blog
  • On a news site or blog you can let your users suggest other areas of interest and investigation.
  • Document annotation – each post could be a chapter of a book or document.

5. Assignment Desk

Assignment Desk,an open source project out of NYU, was created specifically for news organizations using WordPress as their primary content management system. Rather than being only an internal tool like EditFlow, Assignment Desk makes community engagement an intergated part of the editorial workflow.

Assignment Desk overview from Matt Diaz on Vimeo.

From the plugin description: “Once story ideas have been approved, Assignment Desk allows users to participate in the reporting of a particular story. An editor may assign specific roles (e.g. photographer, writer) to the user as well as limit those eligible to contribute by user type (e.g. first time contributor, regular contributor, professional journalist).

The plugin allows community members to submit tips or story ideas to the news organization, and volunteer to help with the story in various ways, while preserving editorial oversight.”

6. Custom Metadata Manager

From a creator of Edit Flow comes yet another way to structure your data within WordPress: Custom Metadata Manager. This plugin allows you to create custom metadata fields to go with different post types. So, for example, you could create a “movie” post type with fields like “release date” and “rating” or a “sports” post type with fields like “location” and “score.”

From the plugin description: “The goal of this plugin is to help you rapidply build familiar, intuitive interfaces for your users in a very WordPress-native way.”