WordPress is the most popular publishing platform for the open web and one that is especially favored by news outlets. Its enterprise service, WordPress VIP, is used by top journalism houses from across the globe from Time and CNN to FiveThirtyEight and Quartz. Therefore, it is significant that WordPress has also decided to foray into the world of blockchain with its new product Newspack. Blockchain will help increase security and reliability of the publishing outlets by offering to store articles in distributed networks. So let’s take a look at Newspack and how it can benefit small and medium-sized news organizations.
Automattic Inc. Secures Funding For Newspack By WordPress
Automattic Inc., the parent company of WordPress, is joining with other tech heavyweights and news industry leaders to develop an open-source publishing platform for news outlets which will integrate blockchain services into WordPress via a plugin. WordPress announced in a blog post that it had secured $2.4 million funding from 5 backers to develop the new platform that is aimed to address some of the current challenges faced by smaller outlets and to help them better monetize their content. Leading the funding effort for Newspack is Google, through the Google News Initiative, which has committed $1.2 million. ConsenSys, the blockchain software technology company founded by Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin is also supporting the venture with $350,000. The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is contributing $400,000 while The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is contributing $250,000. Additionally, $200,000 from a fifth source is expected to be contributed toward the project later this month.
How Newspack Will Integrate Blockchain?
WordPress’s main goal with Newspack is to create a platform that smaller publishing houses can use to generate revenue sustainably. With Newspack, news outlets wouldn’t have to worry about any of the back-end concerned with development, hosting, maintenance and security. All of these challenges cost take valuable resources from the news companies making it harder for them to survive. Newspack is designed to address these issues by automating much of the routine maintenance tasks. Additionally, Newspack also provides an affordable and robust system to integrate the best editorial practices from across the industry. In order to show their support for the journalism industry, Newspack is being offered for free from its launch which is scheduled in July 2019. The effort will be fully funded by Automattic Inc. through the development period which will last until January 2020. After that, operatilng fees of between $1,000 per month and $2,000 per month will be applied to participating sites. Newspack has already partnered with a number of websites to launch by mid-2019 with a goal to have over 60 news websites by 2020.
For its blockchain offerings, Newspack is relying on its partner ConsenSys. Specifically, ConsenSys-backed Civil Media Company, a decentralized marketplace for sustainable journalism has developed a plugin for Newspack. Civil is a blockchain startup that is looking to modify the current ad-driven journalism model that pervades the internet. According to Civil, because of the ad-driven model, reporters are compromised by working for companies that value returns to shareholders over the relentless pursuit of truth. Civil’s solution to this problem is to let readers buy the right to “vote” on whether a newsroom represents fair journalism or not. Last month Civil-backed news site Popula stored a complete article on the Ethereum blockchain. This will ensure that the article will remain accessible and tamper-proof until the Ethereum network survives.
Newsrooms accessing Newspack will be offered the option to use blockchain-based features using the plugin developed by Civil Media. The plugin which will be available for free to all of the participating news companies will allow them to archive content on a decentralized blockchain for enhanced security. Participating newsrooms can also get a better understanding of the Civil, economic model using the plugin. Additionally, the plugin is also designed to work as a portal for users to discover more news articles.