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New WordPress Platform Aims to Help Local News Organizations Thrive

As local news organizations struggle to sustain themselves, a group of industry leaders is looking to make it easier with a new open-source platform called Newspack. Newspack was developed by Automatic (WordPress) with backing from Google, Lenfest, Civil and the Knight Foundation.

The all-in-one platform, designed for small- and medium-sized organizations, will help local news implement best practices. It’s designed to “address some of the persistent obstacles to creating economically sustainable models for journalism, particularly at the local level.” Such obstacles include technology, development, maintenance, hosting and security, as most small news organizations lack the necessary resources and cashflow to address them.

WordPress.com said in its blog post, “Our hope with Newspack is to give [local news organizations] a platform where they can continue to focus on what they do best, while we focus on providing world-class technology and support across their editorial and business operations.” Newspack also implies that it will help these companies generate revenue but doesn’t go into details.

The majority of funding will come from WordPress.com’s parent company and its partners, as well as the Google News Initiative, which aims to bridge the gap between journalism and the digital world. The technology is based on the WordPress.com platform.

As local publications have shuttered over the past few years, some technology companies have tried to fill the gap. Facebook, for example, announced that it would prioritize local news and content within user’s newsfeeds. The Google News app also features local content. But both of those rely on journalists to generate local news.

WordPress is currently looking for small and medium-sized digital news organizations to apply as volunteers during the development process. The platform plans to launch in beta in July. To learn more information and apply as a participant, visit https://newspack.blog/.

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