What should I use to create an online newspaper with?

I get this question quite a bit as it’s one most all of us journalism advisers have had at one point. I just hand it land in my inbox recently and the sender allowed me to use our exchange to post here. While the question is a great one, I love the energy within most.

I just got the okay to teach a middle school journalism elective.  I have no curriculum yet but I have a ton of ideas of where I want it to go and what some of the end products will (hopefully) look like.  I currently only have three students signed up but I’m going to make it work!  I do not have any sort of funding yet to produce paper copies of a newsletter or a newspaper, so I was wondering if you know of a good online site that we could create an online newspaper with?  Free would be great, but if it’s not too expensive then we could probably afford a cheap-ish website.  Once we get that and start creating, we will probably pass out QR codes to the student body that leads to our site.  

Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.  Your site has already given me ideas for the 2nd semester of the class which will be the broadcasting portion so thanks for that!

Thanks,

Zach

Here was my response to Zach.

Thanks so much for reaching out, Zach. I’m more than happy to help and provide whatever guidance you need. I think your best bet here is to use WordPress. I’d set it up as a WordPress blog but you can make it into a functioning site fairly easy and for free. The nice thing is, if you want to upgrade it with something a bit more fancy down the road, you can easily move it to a paid version of WordPress. That way, it just looks different, but you and the team still know how to use the software. To top it off, it’s probably the best thing you can do to prepare kids for high school and life after high school. The WordPress platform is an industry standard and tons of people and sites use it. 

Hope that helps get you started. Feel free to reach out if you need anything else. 
Aaron
While there are lots of great options out there like using SNO or other CMS platforms, many people are starting with no budget and want something simple. The WordPress.com option is the best reco I have. For some, it works just fine and gives them what they need and helps put their students on a nice path of being exposed to a widely known content management system. For others, at some point they find it a bit limiting and want a bit more. For them, they need to upgrade to a self hosted WordPress account or, smarter yet, just contact SNO.
If you’d like some more information on some of these topics as you’re just getting started, this site has a lot of information. While some of the posts were written a few years ago, most of their content remains relevant and should be helpful. Here are a few to get you started. If you find any content is missing or you have questions, don’t hesitate reaching out to let me know.

Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 21st year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He created The Next 26 and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on Twitter and Instragram @manfull and on Snapchat as aaronmanfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

Aaron Manfull has 589 posts and counting. See all posts by Aaron Manfull

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