Google, Knight, ConsenSys and others have joined together to back a new publishing platform called Newspack.
Newspack is primarily targeting smaller and medium-sized publishers. Created by the famous and most widely-used blogging platform on the market, WordPress (parent company Automattic Inc.), the idea is to provide an “inexpensive platform” so that news organizations can focus on what they do best, investigating and publishing stories.
Per the press release on WordPress.com announcing Newspack, Google with its “News Initiative” will take the lead and has committed $1.2 million.
Other investors include The Lensfest Institute for Journalism, ConsenSys (blockchain), Civil Media, and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Overall Automattic, Inc. has secured $2.4 million (USD) funding for the Newspack project.
Newspack is inviting news organizations including local, single topic and general interest to “apply to become charter participants” on the new platform. The beta is expected to launch by the end of July 2019.
This is certainly interesting news, coming at an interesting — aka challenging — time for news organizations who are facing increased challenges in competing in a digital world, that has seen ad revenue shift rapidly to online media. WordPress has won over the open web for publishing and enabled many sites and organizations to publish with little to no overhead, at least in terms of IT costs.
By Mid-2019 there is expected to be about “a dozen” news sites using NewsPack, with up to 60 sites onboarded by 2020.
So far it’s unclear — from what I can tell checking out the Newspack announcement on WordPress.com and the Newspack.blog site — what the differences will be between WordPress itself and Newspack. WordPress today has an unbeatable number of developers creating themes, plugins and various services, many that are free or available for low fees.
We’ve been using WordPress here on Stark Insider for about 10 years now. Before that we we’re on TypePad in the early days of this site’s founding in 2006. Without question, WordPress affords us a robust, multi-user platform that we can use with minimal cost (primarily hosting) to reach audiences around the world. Newspack looks to possibly build on top of that capability, and fine tune WordPress features specifically for a newsroom and its staff.