Automattic announces Newspack, a next-generation news publishing platform backed by Google


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WordPress.com parent company Automattic has announced a new publishing platform for news sites designed to help small and medium-sized publications generate more revenue.

The initiative, which is called Newspack by WordPress.com, is launched in partnership with News Revenue Hub and Spirited Media. Interestingly, Newspack is backed by $ 2.4 million in funding from some big names, including Google, through the Google News Initiative launched last March – Google actually contributed half of the funds. Other contributors include the Lenfest Institute for Journalism ($ 400,000), ConsenSys ($ 350,000) and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation ($ 250,000). Another as yet unknown source is expected to bring in an additional $ 200,000 later this month.

This funding will be used to bring the project into its first year of operation.

Obstacles

WordPress needs little introduction – it’s now believed to power at least 30% of the web, although that includes both the open source, unhosted blogging software available through WordPress.org and the WordPress platform. com hosted for profit.

WordPress in its various forms is already in use by many major publications, in addition to the millions of sites operated by individuals and local publishers, but with Newspack, Automattic is targeting the smallest news outlets who can “wrestle with the complexities of the world.” selection, development and maintenance of technologies. , hosting and security, ”according to a press release. Indeed, put all of those hurdles together, and it just gets a little harder to build a strong and sustainable business.

“Local news outlets are struggling to find sustainable models for journalism – a crisis that has very real implications for democracy,” noted WordPress.com president Kinsey Wilson. “We join with industry leaders in bringing together technological, editorial and business expertise on a single platform that can be shared by news organizations around the world. “

The Newspack platform itself is still in pilot mode and its launch, even as a beta proof-of-concept product, is not expected until July 2019, when it will be used by a dozen websites. But until February 1, applications are being accepted for a wide range of publications, spanning audiences, geographies and models. Automattic said it would prioritize outlets that have already demonstrated “editorial and financial success” in their respective markets, although new startups are also considered if they have a “solid launch plan.”

It should be noted here that Automattic already offers the premium WordPress VIP service, which is an enterprise-level offering optimized for security and scalability, but aimed at larger websites and costing up to tens of thousands of dollars a month.

Details on what exactly the Newspack platform will offer are still a bit sparse. But Automattic says it will combine “the best editorial and business practices” from across the publishing industry.

The development period will run until January 2020, when it is expected to open to around 60 media outlets. The pre-launch phase will be fully funded by Automattic and its donors – once this period has expired, publications can expect to pay anywhere from $ 1,000 to $ 2,000 per month.

“Our hope with Newspack is to give [publications] a platform where they can continue to focus on what they do best, while we focus on providing world-class technology and support in their editorial and business operations, ”added Mark Armstrong, Editor-in-Chief of Automattic.

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About Florence M. Sorensen

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