The parent company of WordPress.com, Automattic, has announced a new news site publishing platform designed to help small and medium-sized publications generate more revenue.
The initiative, which is called Newspack by WordPress.com, launches in partnership with News Revenue Hub and Spirited Media. Interestingly enough, Newspack is being funded by the Google News initiative launched last March for $ 2.4 million, funded by big names including Google – in fact, Google 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). It is expected that another unnamed source will raise another $ 200,000 this month.
These funds will be used to go through the project during its first year of operation.
WordPress Needs Little Introduction ̵
WordPress in its various forms is already used by many major publications, in addition to millions of websites operated by individuals and local publishers. However, with Newspack, Automattic targets smaller news agencies that are "struggling with the complexities of technology selection, development, maintenance, hosting and security," according to a news release. Put all these obstacles together and it will be a little harder to build a solid and sustainable business.
"Local news organizations struggle to find sustainable models for journalism – a crisis that has very concrete implications for democracy. Noted WordPress.com President Kinsey Wilson. "We partner with industry leaders to bring technology, publishing and business expertise together on a single platform that can be shared among news organizations around the world."
The Newspack platform itself is still in pilot mode It is not expected to be released by July 2019, even as a beta proof-of-concept product, when viewed from about a dozen websites is used. However, by 1 February, applications will be accepted from a variety of publications covering target groups, regions and models. Automattic said it will prioritize outlets that have previously shown "editorial and financial success" in their respective markets. However, young news startups are also considered if they have a "strong start plan".
It's worth mentioning that Automattic already offers this service The Premium WordPress VIP Service is a security and scalability-optimized enterprise offering, but aimed at larger websites. The cost is several tens of thousands of dollars a month.
Details are a bit short of what the Newspack platform will offer. According to Automattic, it will combine "the best editorial and business practices" across the publishing industry.
The development phase will extend to January 2020 and is expected to open around 60 news agencies. The pre-launch phase is fully funded by Automattic and its donors – as this deadline expires, publications are expected to pay between $ 1,000 and $ 2,000 per month at some point.
"Our hope with Newspack is to give [publications] a platform where they can continue to focus on what they do best while focusing on providing world-class technology and support for their editorial and business activities "added Automattic editor Mark Armstrong.