On the morning of January 14, WordPress parent Automattic and Google announced Newspack.  The new content management system (CMS) is “an advanced open-source publishing and revenue-generating platform for news organizations.”  Smaller, local news publishers that struggle with traffic and revenue are the main target of this new content management system.

According to Google, the primary objective of Newspack is to “help small publishers succeed by building best practices into the product while removing distractions that may divert scarce resources.”  Aside from Google and Automattic, other project funders include Lenfest, ConsenSys and the Knight Foundation.

Publishers are being invited by Automattic to apply to be initial testers of the platform and provide feedback.  At the end of its blog post, the company is offering a form, saying applications are due by February 1.  There won’t be a charge for using the platform through January 2020, but after that, it will cost between $1,000 and $2,000 per month.

Automattic also says that in the initial rollout phase “sites that are principally designed for audio or video news reporting will not be supported.”

A challenge that the program is trying to address is the optimal business model for local news.  Spirited Media and News Revenue Hub is going to work to help solve the business model challenge.  Collectively they’ll be trying to “better understand the features and capabilities that contribute to publisher success and to measure the business impact of those features.”  According to Google, it’s going to provide technical support on the integration of Google products.

Automattic President Kinsey Wilson said, “We plan to provide out-of-the-box integrations with ad systems and various subscription and membership systems, including News Revenue Hub. The first phase of the effort will be to canvass the industry and understand what tools should be built in from the start.”

Newspack is the latest in a series of initiatives that Google has spearheaded to help newspapers and journalism. Roughly a year ago, Google announced the Google News Initiative, a set of efforts intended to:

  • Elevate and strengthen quality journalism.
  • Evolve business models to drive sustainable growth.
  • Empower news organizations through technological innovation.

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