Today Automattic, the parent of WordPress.com announced a new venture with partners Spirited Media and News Revenue Hub and £2.4 million in funding for the first year. The project will use the WordPress.com cloud platform. Funding comes the Google News Initiative ($1.2m), The Lenfest Institute for Journalism ($400,000), ConsenSys ($350,000), and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation ($250,000). An additional $200,000 source is yet to be announced.
The project aims to tackle the technical complexities for smaller news startups. Called Newspack by WordPress.com, the platform is squarely aimed at local news. One of the partners Spirited Media runs local news site in Denver, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.
“Local news organizations are struggling to find sustainable models for journalism — a crisis that has very real implications for democracy,” said Kinsey Wilson, President of WordPress.com and a former senior executive at NPR and The New York Times. “We’re joining with industry leaders to bring technology, publishing and business expertise together in a single platform that can be shared by news organizations across the globe.”
ConsenSys incubated Civil the journalism platform that aims to be a decentralized news hub. It had an unsuccessful token sale in October and as a result had to refund the money raised. Since then ConsenSys has had a major belt-tightening. But not everyone saw it as a complete fail. Particularly one local news outlet, Colorado Sun. Editor Larry Ryckman spoke to Philip Smith on Medium:
“I am incredibly optimistic about the future of the Colorado Sun because the people of Colorado have responded to our debut with enthusiasm and have given us strong support. Our ultimate success depends on great journalism, not tokens. While I, of course, am rooting for their success and believe in Civil’s mission, our focus is on connecting with Colorado readers and giving them the deep journalism they need and deserve.”
The Newspack platform will include a Civil plugin, so interested newsrooms can join the Civil network.