Online Journalism Scandinavia: Mecom’s Danish arm may ditch costly CMS for Drupal

Berlingske Media, Denmark’s biggest publisher of daily newspapers, is considering making free open source software Drupal its online publishing system of choice.

Former Mirror-boss David Montgomery’s Danish lieutenant, Lisbeth Knudsen, is contemplating the move, which could save a substantial sum of money – but it does not come without risk.

Berlingske Media already runs some of its sites on Drupal – a long-time favourite free content management system (CMS) of web hacker-geeks – but many consider the open source solution more vulnerable to hackers than proprietary systems.

“Our sports portal, launched early in June, is developed in Drupal, and we will use this for more sites. We are in the process of evaluating future online solutions, and will make a decision on this later this year. So far we have chosen Drupal for some of our smaller sites and Saxotech online for the bigger,” Knudsen told me.

But is Drupal up to the task?

The Danish newspaper publisher is in the process of integrating all its titles into ‘verticals’ that deliver copy across platforms and titles, and its sports site carries material from several of Berlingske’s titles.

Henning Sund, head of digital development for newspaper publisher Edda Media, is sceptical about how well Drupal is suited to such large-scale projects.

”I think part of the reason Berlingske Media is considering Drupal is that they are so desperate to get away from Saxotech Online. That is a desire I understand perfectly,” he said, explaining that Edda Media, Mecom’s Norwegian division, is also in the process of replacing Saxotech Online, but Drupal is not a candidate.

”I do not feel the security in Drupal is well-documented enough. We want a provider that can take responsibility for this, something we will not get with Drupal,” said Sund, adding that you also have to spend a lot of money on developing the desired functionality in Drupal, as it is not ‘plug and play’.

Berlingske-owned, a city guide for Copenhagen that runs on Drupal, has used an east European company to develop extra functionality in Drupal – a concept that has been exported to Berlin and Mecom Germany.

However, Sund does not think that Mecom boss Montgomery will impose Drupal as the standard CMS throughout the company should it be a success:

“Montgomery has made it very clear that as long as you reach your budget targets, you can choose the solutions you see fit. However, if you do not reach these targets, you will get Montgomery breathing down your neck, and that is something you would do anything to avoid.”

For more news on newspapers harnessing open source read about The Jewish Chronicle’s launch of a beta site using Drupal.

3 thoughts on “Online Journalism Scandinavia: Mecom’s Danish arm may ditch costly CMS for Drupal

  1. JM Drupal

    This article is not correct. If you want enterprise support level using Drupal you can turn to, among some other larger web developers specializing in the frame work. Drupal has also a dedicated security desk in place. Which probably response a little faster and more transparent then black box solutions are able to do.

    As you might assumed – we use Drupal too 🙂

  2. Greg

    JM Drupal is absolutely spot on correct here. The misguided “security risk” with open source software is regularly banded about and shows a fundamental lack of understanding of what open source is all about.

    An open source project, be it Apache, Drupal, MySQL, Linux, whatever, has a team of developers in the tens of thousands, compared with a few hundred for even the biggest closed source “Black Box” project. As a result, more usage, more eyeballs, FASTER security fixes, coupled with transparent code that you are free to modify if you don’t like something.

    A growing number of world governments, who are arguably the most risk-aversed software purchasers of all, are moving to open source software because it offers far higher security (and, most importantly, the ability to review the code and judge for yourself). They are shunning the big black box software producers. The concept that somehow open source is a security risk belongs with the dinosaurs.

  3. Kristine Lowe

    JM Drupal: what you effectively are saying is that you disagree with Henning Sund’s arguments in this piece. The article only reports a development, Berlingske’s CMS choice, which Sund comments on. As such, the article couldn’t be incorrect in itself unless I included wrong facts or claimed to be giving you the whole and unvarnished truth about Drupal (which I don’t). I thought it was valuable in this context to hear why some newspaper folks don’t see Drupal as an option.

    As I also work for a site which runs on Drupal, , I don’t necessarily share Sund’s views, but I thought it was interesting to hear the views of someone who is both working on digital development in the same company and knows a lot about digital development and newspapers.

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