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New York Times ICE Plugin Shifts Paradigm In News Publishing

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The WordPress Experts at WPMU.org report that The New York Times has created a WordPress plugin called ICE (Integrated Content Editor) that makes collaborative editing easier than ever.

Over the last decade, the rise of social media and the increasing demands of real-time reporting forced the paper to re-evaluate its content management system. As noted in his original blog post announcing the plugin, the Times’s Chief Technology Officer Marc Frons noted that instead of having a print audience in mind when writing a piece, “more of our journalists were writing from the outset with an online audience in mind. They were asking for new technology that not only made that possible, but easy.”

Like many other news organizations working with print content, the Times needed the ability to allow multiple people to touch copy and for those changes to be catalogued, archived and made visible on the screen during the editing process. From this the paper’s Web CMS team embarked on an ambitious project called Web First and in the process created a paradigm shift in news publishing.

What they came up with is ICE, a plugin with the ease of use of inline editors like Google Docs, with the versioning ability of WordPress and the visual tracking capacity of Microsoft Word. ICE enables users to see others’ additions and deletions and to approve or reject them. It presently works in WordPress and TinyMCE, a common text-editor used in blogging platforms, and can be integrated into other systems. Regardless of whether Times’ writers are writing online or print content, they’ll use the same text editor.

Here’s an example of how the plugin looks in action:

ICE WordPress Plugin

The plugin can be downloaded at GitHub. WPMU reports that the GitHub page is fairly technical; so if you are less experienced with different types of code, you can follow these instructions included in the original WPMU site.

In his post, Frons notes that the plugin does have some limitations. Editor content must be inline and inside common block level tags. Since the Times editors use modern browsers, the plugin has not been thoroughly tested on Internet Explorer or older browsers. In addition, ICE depends on the the jQuery DOM library; however, the company does plan to write additional adapters.

You can read the full WPMU post here and the Times’s original announcement of the plugin here.

-Nathan

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