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The WordPress evolution: 10 major media players that use it

Over the past three years WordPress has evolved from being predominantly blog-centric into a full, hands-on content management system (CMS) with more than 15-million blogs being hosted on WordPress.com.

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While it’s impossible to count the number of standalone sites that are powered by WordPress.org, the self-installed version of WordPress, we can expect that the number is growing exponentially as the open source software has distinguished itself as the world’s most popular CMS and blogging engine.

With thousands of widgets, plugins and themes — all of which are fully customisable — the unique system has given managing web content a series of compelling advantages: Installation is straightforward and easy, it’s SEO friendly, browser compatible, free, quick and easy to upgrade.

It therefore comes as no surprise that a majority of well-known corporate and media entities have employed WordPress as their webfront (or a part thereof), preferring the flexibility that it offers.

Here’s our pick of the ten biggest WordPress-driven sites:

1. NYTimes blogs
The highly distinguished New York Times is one America’s largest and most respected newspapers and its blogs are well written, popular and excellently collaborated encompassing all the various facets of the media. From technology to sport, politics, health and much more, a large workforce of reputable columnists and writers, well known personalities, niche experts and web celebrities provide content that adheres to the rigorous standards required by the reputable newshouse but with a lighter, more opinionated approach. The New York Times maintains and publishes over 50 WordPress powered blogs.

2. Techcrunch
Michael Arrington’s prolific publication prodigy, TechCrunch occupies the number 2 ranking on Technorati and is 1st in the Info/Tech category. Initially starting out as a blog profiling Internet startups in and around Silicon Valley, TechCrunch has subsequently grown into a network of technology-oriented sites, offering a wide range of content and new media. With over 4-million feed subscribers, the TechCrunch network has expanded from the USA to Europe, France and Japan and has dedicated ‘crunch’ blogs covering all the niches within technology – from mobile to gadgets and social media.

3. CNN blogs
I’ve been subscribing to CNN’s Political Ticker and SciTech blogs for a while now and, as expected with the world’s largest news network, the blogs offer content that is up to date, well researched and highly informative with correspondents and sources around the world contributing all the time. They cover fresh, breaking stories along with any other interesting articles and items driving collective discussion.

4. Wired Magazine
The online periodical of the ever popular American magazine reports on various issues on technology and effects on culture and the economy. Over the years Wired has established a reputable name for itself and has kept up with the times, releasing the Wired iPad tablet edition which remained the number 1 paid download for five consecutive days on iTunes. Wired’s online site is powered by WordPress and its glossy, magazine-like approach has adhered to the bold design standards that are currently trending.

5. Reuters blogs
It makes perfect sense that the world’s largest news agency should run a network of WordPress blogs and Reuters has over 40 such sites, each offering both analysis and opinion with a strong emphasis on the political front. Included in these are blogs providing insight into Afghanistan, news from Africa and India, entrepreneurship, soccer and much more.

6. Wall Street Journal Blogs
Maintaining the same stylised news approach that has made the Wall Street Journal so popular, the blogs provide real time news and analysis around the clock with selected outside experts also contributing and the existing Journal staff editing posts for clarity and accuracy.

7. China Digital Times
A collaborative bilingual news site that aims to cover China’s social and political transitions and emerging role in the world, CDT aggregates up-to-the-minute news about China from around the web while simultaneously allowing for independent reporting and perspectives. A quick peek into its “About us” section hinted that CDT extensively (although not exclusively) made use of Wikipedia as a resource for participatory media. It is founded by Xiao Qiang, the director of the China Internet Project and professor at the Graduate School of Journalism, Berkeley.

8. IBN Live
IBN Live is the online arm of Global Broadcast News (GBN), India’s 24-hour English-language news channel, spearheaded by Rajdeep Sardesai as a joint venture between CNN International and GBN India. Serving robust and high quality news from every corner of the subcontinent and including relevant global news, the high-traffic site includes a plethora of mobile and multimedia content on interactive platform, backed by over 1000 news professionals.

9. Cultura Digital
Run by the Brazilian Culture Ministry, Cultura Digital is a Brazilian social network, aimed at creating a digital culture and social media awareness by integrating public citizens, government institutions, state companies, civil society and the market. Cultura has made good use of the BuddyPress WordPress social network plugin, resulting in a highly interactive site for people with an interest in digital culture in Brazil.

10. Thought Leader
The social arm of the ever popular Mail and Guardian, Thought Leader is South Africa’s most popular WordPress site, coupling opinions-based writing with intellectually thought-provoking content and often firing off debates that extend well beyond the newsroom and into the public and (dare I say it?) governmental sphere. Not only is it the platform for some of South Africa’s most established personalities and contributors but is also home to talented up-and-coming writers.

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