By Shereen Siewert, Wausau Pilot and Review publisher
Wausau Pilot and Review is among 34 news organizations chosen through a competitive process to guide the next phase of development of a new WordPress-based platform for small and medium-sized publishers.
Nearly 500 newsrooms around the world applied to be part of the program.
We are incredibly excited to have been chosen for this opportunity, which we see as an important tool in our future success, as well as the future of news in Wausau. This coupled with our NewsMatch program that doubles all individual contributions from now until Dec. 31, will ensure our sustainability and growth projections for 2020.
We expect to relaunch on the Newspack platform by the end of February, joining 11 newsrooms in a previous cohort that have been working with the development team since March and are in the process of relaunching their sites now.
Newspack is an open-source publishing platform, developed on WordPress.com, that is designed to provide a powerful, yet affordable and easy-to-deploy technology solution for local and niche news organizations. It is designed to free publishers from the burden of selecting, deploying and maintaining complex software systems and allow them to dedicate more resources to producing high-quality journalism.
“We’re delighted by the interest that’s been shown in Newspack and the fact that barely six months into the project we have 45 participating news organizations,” said Kinsey Wilson, president of WordPress.com. “It demonstrates the appetite for affordable solutions that will help sustain journalism at the local level.”
Newspack is supported by funding, as well as technical and advisory assistance, from the Google News Initiative; The Lenfest Institute for Journalism; ConsenSys, the venture studio backing Civil Media; and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Newspack is being developed by Automattic, the parent company of WordPress, whose CEO, Matt Mullenweg, is the cofounder of the WordPress open-source software. Newspack sites will be hosted, secured, and updated by WordPress, allowing them to tap into the world-class technology and support relied upon by some of the most trusted names in journalism.
Newspack is designed to meet the editorial and business needs of smaller digital publishers and includes audience-engagement and revenue-development features that are designed to help news publishers achieve sustainability.
As with the charter newsrooms now launching, we will work with the Newspack team to identify our publishing needs, and will help design, test and deploy our new platform.
The newsrooms in the second round of development are:
Queens Courier, Ridgewood Times, Times Newsweekly, TimesLedger
The Daily Yonder, part of the Center for Rural Strategies