Cranky Computers and New Age Journalism

A reader will occasionally write in asking a question about format and placement on our site. Usually it's something along the lines of "Why couldn't you display this video with that story" or "How come you don't put this type of story here," etc.

Usually the answer is ... our CMS won't let us.

CMS stands for content management system. It's the software used to get material -- text, pictures, video, whatever -- from the computer onto the Web site. Ours is kinda cranky. That's not unusual, mind you. The one I used at a previous employer was cranky too.

And I was at a Web publishers confab not too long ago. Guess what? Everybody there thought their particular CMS was cranky too.

Now you'd think some software outfit, seeing all these big honkin' media outfits upset with their CMS applications, would come up with a solution and sell it to all of us.

Probably won't happen though, for two basic reasons.

-- A Web site for a big honkin' media company isn't the same as a family blog. The CMS has to do a lot of things, move a lot of content, move a lot of different types of content, and do it quickly. That's a hard build.

-- Internal tech departments have convinced the managements of various big honkin' media companies that their in-house technology (despite its crankiness) gives the company a competitive advantage.

Well, older media companies have to deal with printing press, newsprint, and trucking issues. I guess it's only fair that new media companies have problems on a par with that.

Guess we're all just stuck with the ghosts in the machine.