See the revenue-generation features of Newspack in action

The Newspack team has hit another development milestone on time with the completion of the tools needed to set up donations/subscriptions and advertising.

The charter newsrooms that are guiding the development of Newspack are still on course to launch by mid-October.

The demonstration videos below, which are not narrated, show the initial setup of each.



An early peek at Newspack shows flexibility and speed of homepage design

This video from Laurel Fulford of the Newspack development team demonstrates how the new platform adds to WordPress’s block editor to give newsrooms a range of options for showcasing their work (no sound):

Up to 12 charter newsrooms are set to re-launch with the service by mid-October. Applications are open through Aug. 15 for up to 50 news organizations to join the second phase of development. Much more on that here

This rough-cut video without any narration was put together to show Newspack’s pilot newsrooms what’s possible, not as a training tool. It moves quickly, with the goal of showing a completed page in short order. It offers a glimpse of the design possibilities that are planned.

Read more about Newspack’s features and the thinking behind it on the

Although there isn’t a video showing their creation, here are several static mockups of Newspack content.

Five examples of homepages:

A couple looks at single posts:

And mobile delivery of a homepage:

Google, through its Google News Initiative, is the lead underwriter of Newspack’s development at $1.2 million. Other financial supporters and advisers are The Lenfest Institute, which is contributing $400,000; ConsenSys, which is contributing $350,000; and the Knight Foundation, which is contributing $250,000. 

Applications open to participate in Phase Two of Newspack development

Newspack is now accepting applications from news organizations that want to be part of a second phase of using and testing the new publishing platform. 

The application is here. The deadline is Aug. 15. 

Automattic, the parent company of, is building Newspack for small and medium-sized online news publishers. It will be revenue focused, simple, fast, flexible and durable, with features to meet the needs of most newsrooms.  

The first half of the yearlong project, which is ongoing, involves 12 charter newsrooms working closely with the Newspack team to guide development efforts. (The first Newspack sites are expected to debut by mid-October.)

We’re now seeking up to 50 more newsrooms to join in the second half of the effort, from Sept. 1 through Feb. 29, 2020.

What you’ll get: a new Newspack website, including the migration of your existing site; free hosting, security, updates, backups and support on through February 2020 (with the possibility of partial subsidies for costs after that); membership in the Newspack community of users; access to Newspack developers; exclusive performance benchmarking against your peers; and more. 

What you’ll provide: invaluable feedback to the development team; testing of new features; the spirit of collaboration and a goal of creating a better experience for all Newspack users. 

After the free hosting period ends on Feb. 29, the expected cost will be $1,000 per month for news organizations with revenue under $500,000; and $2,000 per month for those with revenue over $500,000. (We’re in negotiation with granting institutions to provide subsidies for sites that may find the fees beyond their means). 

The main features of Newspack will be revenue-generation tools — such as wizards that help you set up advertising, memberships and customer-acquisition features — and a back-end interface that lets editors easily experiment with and change page layouts to suit changing needs.

That means publishers will no longer be locked into a template that only a developer can revise. Need a magazine-style layout to highlight a beautiful feature story and photos? How about a different homepage look for election night? Or maybe a way to showcase that longterm investigative project over the weekend? All possible, post-by-post, page-by-page and day-by-day. 

Importantly, all plugins recommended by Newspack will be vetted to perform optimally and without conflict. WordPress has more than 52,000 plugins; we’ll recommend only the ones that work with your site and meet the needs of journalists. 

Newspack users will be part of a community that benefits from the work of each member. For instance, if one newsroom requests and gets a new feature or plugin from the development team, that feature or plugin will be available to everyone. 

Newspack will support:

  • mobile delivery
  • search engine optimization
  • advertising delivery and management
  • feed ingestion
  • headline optimization
  • push notifications
  • offline viewing  
  • A/B testing
  • subscription and membership services
  • email marketing services
  • lead acquisition tools
  • advanced analytics
  • social-media and newsletter integration
  • AMP

For more information, email Newspack communications contact Steve Beatty at

Again, the application is here, and the deadline is Aug. 15.

Diving into Newspack development

In April, the Newspack team converged on New York city for a product planning meetup. Automattic is a distributed company so this involved folks travelling in from as far as Vancouver Island, Zagreb Croatia, and New Orleans. We came out of the meetup with a clearer vision of the functionality, features and philosophy of Newspack. What follows are some key product concepts and a visualization, which we call the swim lanes, of the product focus areas.

Key Concepts

1. Revenue Focus

The central goal of Newspack is to provide a foundation for sustainable journalism, and to this end the primary product focus should always be on customer revenue. In the swim lanes, the Marketing pool is where we stand to have the most essential and transformative effect on our customers. As “CMS people” we have a natural bias to focus on publishing flows, design and layout, but to truly help our customers succeed we must keep our eye on revenue generation above all.

2. Curation and Configuration

Newspack is not about building new functionality—it is about identifying the very best existing tools and providing a simple, relatable interface for installing and configuring these to best serve our customer. The products we include will originate from Automattic, Newspack partners, and third parties. The Newspack team will develop new features only if no existing options satisfy the feature need.The WordPress ecosystem is vast and sometimes overwhelming to the customer. Our approach is to weave a (sometimes) complex tapestry of existing tools, abstracted behind the simplest possible UI. Newspack is the glue that creates a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

3. Empathetic Development

We’re lucky to have a tremendous set of customer and customer-adjacent voices available to us in our development process: the 12 charter publications, our partners, the industry research News Revenue Hub is conducting, and the industry expertise that we and those around us have built up over the years. To capitalize on these advantages we should listen closely to these voices at every stage of product development. Steady, meaningful interaction with our customer will help us make Newspack the best product it can be.

4. Less Is More Visuals

The visual elements of Newspack — theme and blocks — build on the idea that the visual delta between news websites is actually small, and endless customization is neither necessary nor desirable. We plan to provide a single theme with enough flexible customization for publications to express their brand differentiation in meaningfully ways, and a set of Gutenberg blocks they can use to assemble an ideal site.

5. Education as a Feature

Some of the value we aim to provide to our customer comes in the form of guidance rather than features. Newspack should surface and explain best practices in design, publishing flow and business practices whenever possible, even if it doesn’t relate to a feature we are providing. WordPress can be overwhelming, and our job is to make it simpler and more relatable.

Swim Lanes

Here’s a brief look at how we plan to focus on the various pieces of work—swim lanes are groupings of related work that will be ‘serialized’ (rather than happening in parallel). They will each have a ‘directly responsible individual’ leading them, but will not necessarily be the work of a single person.

Newspack FAQ

What is Newspack?

It’s a ready-to-go, intuitive, revenue-focused publishing platform that will let small and medium-sized newsrooms dedicate more resources to their journalism. Newspack will be simple to set up, easy to use, durable, flexible and fast.

So it’s a new content-management system?

No, Newspack is being developed on WordPress, the world’s most popular CMS. Newspack will be a plugin that selects, streamlines and simplifies the use of other plugins best suited to newsroom needs. It’s the maestro that will arrange and conduct an orchestra of plugins. And it eliminates most of publishers’ technology headaches and overhead.

Which plugins?

Our research with publishers so far has given us the “what” but not yet the “how.” Generally, we expect Newspack to support:

  • mobile delivery,
  • search engine optimization
  • advertising delivery and management
  • feed ingestion
  • headline optimization
  • A/B testing
  • subscription and membership services
  • email marketing services
  • lead acquisition tools
  • advanced analytics
  • social-media and newsletter integration
  • subscription services
  • and features like AMP and PWA.

How are you going to find the right plugins?

We don’t pretend to know what’s best for journalists. We want the experts to be our partners in designing Newspack. In April, we chose 12 charter newsrooms to work alongside of us. We also surveyed hundreds of small and medium-sized online publishers to get their input. If you’re a publisher or newsroom leader, we welcome your input here.

How will you evaluate the plugins and other features?

With a tight focus, confidence and a bit of an attitude. Our newsroom partners will help determine the best tool for each job. We’ll sift through everything the open-source WordPress community has to offer so you don’t have to. We’ll keep a constantly evolving, highly curated catalog of plugins, adding when we find new gems and culling the list when others get outdated.

The beauty of an open-source platform such as WordPress is that developers are constantly innovating. But until now, finding, vetting and installing the latest plugins — with confidence that they won’t break what you’ve built — has been a challenge for smaller newsrooms.

That makes sense. What are some of the areas you’re focusing on?

  • For publishing, newsrooms will be able to change the layout of their pages and presentations on the fly. No more being locked into only what a theme offers. Workflows will be streamlined and integrated with social media and newsletters.
  • For revenue development, we’ll find features that smoothly take readers through an audience-acquisition funnel to become subscribers or members. We’ll make it easy to create an online store. Accepting payments and donations will be a breeze.
  • For audience engagement, we’ll use the best tools that ensure your readers can be part of a newsroom’s operations including story inception, sourcing, reporting, post-publication comments and planning for live events.

Sounds great. What will it cost?

The Newspack service on will be $1,000 a month for newsrooms with gross revenue under $500,000 a year, and $2,000 a month for those above that mark.

What does a newsroom get for that?

In short, a foundation for sustainable journalism. The service will include:

  • hosting
  • support
  • security
  • backups
  • automatic updates
  • high-speed video and image delivery
  • continuing research into best practices in revenue development and journalism
  • exclusive benchmarking against your peers
  • a connection to Newspack developers  
  • membership in a growing community of local publishers.

Sounds reasonable.

For the newsrooms in the middle of the lower tier, it’s less than 5 percent of their annual gross revenue. For every newsroom in the second tier, it’s less than 5 percent.

Will Newspack be open source?

Yes. is committed to its role in the open-source community. Newspack is no exception, and the plugin will be portable.  

Aren’t some newsrooms getting Newspack at no cost?

Newspack is grant funded for the first year of operation. Sites that join in that period — both the initial 12 charter sites and the subsequent 50 or so that will be onboarded in the fall — won’t pay anything until March 2020. This recognizes the time, effort and expertise they’re contributing toward the development of Newspack.

How are you choosing the newsrooms for the second phase? And when?

If a publisher applied in the first round, there’s no need to do anything to remain in consideration for the second. For those who didn’t already apply, we expect to release a new application in late summer. Signup for the Newspack newsletter to be kept up to date on that.

Won’t this just create a cookie-cutter news site?

Only under the hood, where it’s important. One of the key principles of Newspack is that smaller publishers have many common needs. Each of them shouldn’t spend their time researching, choosing, installing, maintaining and updating something so essential to their business. Newspack will do that for them. A site’s appearance can be changed easily, and sites will have a lot of discretion over what features they load. All this can be done without having to engage a developer.

Perfect. Where’s the sign-up page?

Sorry, but Newspack is still being developed and won’t be widely available until March of 2020. Publishers can apply to be part of the second phase of the pilot program when applications open in late summer. Sign up here for the Newspack newsletter to be kept up to date.

OK. Now talk nerdy to me. How Newspack is being developed?

All development will take place in public Github repositories.The community is welcome to submit issues, feature requests, and code-level changes. There are two repos — one for the plugin and one for the theme.

How will the plugin options work?

The most common and critical will be loaded by default when publishers create up or migrate their sites. Others will be offered to publishers during setup, depending on their preferences, such as whether they need advertising management tools. Other vetted and approved options will be listed in a directory. As part of their support for Newpack, Google, Civil and Automattic will ensure that services used by news organizations are available through Newspack.

What are the elements of Newspack?

Newspack will consist of a modular plugin, a theme, and a managed hosting offering.

Say a bit more about the plugin.

The plugin manages a range of journalism-focused functionality. Some features will be provided natively, and some will integrate third-party products. The plugin will manage the installation of outside plugins. A key pillar of Newspack will be a fast, distraction-free onboarding experience, focused tightly on the needs of journalism.

And the theme?

The Newspack theme will be based on the latest Gutenberg-era WordPress thinking, in line with the vision laid out here: one theme, many styles, blocks and templates. Newspack will not be about offering an unnecessary variety of themes. It will zero in on the precise visual needs of a newsroom, but still let publishers customize their site with a distinct look and layout.

How will Newspack be hosted? will be offering and promoting a hosted solution. As an open-source project, Newspack can be downloaded and installed anywhere.

How does Newspack interact with Gutenberg?

As a new product in the post-Gutenberg-launch era, Newspack has the luxury to be a textbook application of Gutenberg concepts without significant backwards compatibility concerns. We hope to implement a modern hierarchy of blocks/themes/styles/templates, leveraging some of the most exciting work in the WordPress community, which will only grow more refined and powerful over time.

Will custom plugin and theme installation be supported in service offered by

Yes. Automattic’s Newspack hosting will live on Atomic architecture, which allows for installation of custom themes and plugins, within reason. We aspire to make Newspack a comprehensive solution in which you won’t need to do this much, but the option exists if you so choose.

Newspack Chooses 12 Publishers to Drive the Creation of the New Platform has chosen the 12 newsrooms that will help shape Newspack, the core business platform for small and medium-sized news organizations. Newspack is a project of and its parent company, Automattic, and operating partners News Revenue Hub and Spirited Media.

Together, they will produce a ready-to-go business and publishing offering that will let publishers dedicate more resources to their journalism.

The creation of the platform 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.

The newsrooms are:

They will be joined by journalists from the Daily Maverick, a news, analysis, and investigative outlet based in South Africa and founded in 2009, and from Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, a decades-old, national nonprofit investigative newsroom based in California. Both will offer critical insight as Newspack is created, but they aren’t expected to be part of the platform’s launch.

The journalists at these 12 publications will work with the Newspack development team to identify the needs of publishers with small and medium-sized newsrooms. They will help design, test, and deploy the first live versions of the platform, using some tools not yet available to the wider WordPress community.

These publishers were among more than 370 from around the world who applied to be part of the project.

The result will be a finely tuned solution for the unique needs of smaller publishers. The selected features and continued support of the Newspack team will ease the technology burden for newsroom leaders so they can put their resources toward doing what they do best — serving their communities with high-quality, dependable journalism. Further, the built-in audience-engagement and revenue-development features will give publishers more options to experiment with sustainability strategies.

Google, through its Google News Initiative, is the lead underwriter of Newspack’s development. The initiative’s extensive contacts with local publishers position it well to advise on common newsroom needs and to provide technical support when Newspack plans involve integration of Google products. 

In addition to $1.2 million committed by Google, financial supporters include The Lenfest Institute, which is contributing $400,000; ConsenSys, which is contributing $350,000; and the Knight Foundation, which is contributing $250,000. 

“We’re delighted with the outpouring of interest and the wide range of sites that have applied to be part of the initial Newspack launch,” said Kinsey Wilson, President of and a former digital executive with The New York Times and NPR. “It reflects a real hunger for solutions across the digital news industry.”

Newspack will eliminate the need for news organizations to devote time and effort to simply keeping pace with broad-based industry innovations and instead let them concentrate on efforts essential to their distinctive missions. Newspack sites will be hosted and updated by, providing the world-class technology and support relied upon by some of the most trusted names in journalism.

“The whole purpose of Newspack, to me, is to unleash potential,” said David Fritze, executive editor of Oklahoma Watch, a pilot newsroom. “At small independent sites like ours, the digital  stage can be chaotic, a kind of maze that saps our time and focus. Newspack promises to cut through the clutter, to give us the sure footing to grow.” 

Managing editor Graham Watson-Ringo of The Rivard Report in San Antonio, another pilot newsroom, said she looks forward to Newspack helping her showcase content in ways her operation has not been able to explore.

 “The ability to help mold a content management system into a tool that will enhance nonprofit journalism is a really amazing opportunity,” she said. “And we can’t say enough about how grateful we are for being chosen to help.”

After the pilot newsrooms re-launch with Newspack, expected to happen in the fall, up to 50 more will be brought on board. This second phase will demonstrate that the platform can scale to meet the needs of a wide variety of publishers. This group of publishers will be selected after a new call for applicants this summer. Newsrooms that applied in the first round will be considered without the need to reapply.

In recognition of their critical role in guiding development, newsrooms launching on Newspack in the first two phases will do so at no cost until March 2020.

By 2020, the Newspack service will be available commercially from, with an expected cost starting at $1,000 a month. In addition to the features already noted, Newspack will stay current with evolving industry needs. The service will include membership in a community of fellow Newspack users with access to the product team; quarterly, confidential benchmarking reports that show how their sites compare to others in their class; and a premium level of support that is still being defined.

More about the pilot newsrooms

Baltimore Jewish Times — Founded in 1919 and now published by Mid-Atlantic Media, the print and online publication is affectionately known locally as the JT. Its powerhouse journalism is a cornerstone of the Jewish community, delivering important local, national and international news and opinion, plus entertaining features and profiles and convenient, useful advertising.

Bangor Daily News — A family-owned business now in its fourth generation of ownership has produced Maine’s newspaper of record for more than 100 years. Its newsroom adopted a Google Docs-to-WordPress platform in 2011, emphasizing its digital growth across Maine.

Brooklyn Eagle — This 178-year-old brand was once edited by Walt Whitman and is renowned as the steadfast chronicler of Brooklyn history. It serves all who live in the borough of 2.6 million people. Its audience includes the civically engaged, such as voters and volunteers; and the socially active, those who participate and contribute to the vibrant food, retail and cultural landscape of Brooklyn.

The Chicago Reporter — The publication was founded in 1972, a time when Chicago and the nation struggled to come to terms with the gains of the civil rights era and the resistance that followed. The mission of the data-driven, investigative publication, with its trademark style of dispassionate but exhaustive reporting, is to document the region’s struggles with the burning issues of racism, poverty and income inequality.

The Hechinger Report — This nonprofit publication that focuses intently on all aspects of education is named after Fred M. Hechinger, the former education editor of The New York Times. It covers inequality and innovation in education with in-depth journalism that uses research, data and stories from classrooms and campuses to show the public how education can be improved and why it matters.

The Lens — Founded in 2009, the online publication is the New Orleans area’s first nonprofit, nonpartisan public-interest newsroom, dedicated to unique investigative and explanatory journalism. Its mission is to educate, engage and empower readers with information and analysis necessary for them to advocate for a more transparent and just governance that is accountable to the public.

Oklahoma Watch — Launched in late 2010, this statewide investigative news organization covers public-policy and quality-of-life issues facing the state and region. It produces data-driven and multimedia reports on topics that include education, state government, criminal justice, public health and poverty. Oklahoma Watch is nonpartisan and strives to be balanced, relentless and comprehensive. Its mission is: “Dig deep. Fear none. Inspire change.”

The Rivard Report — Publisher and editor Robert Rivard oversees a full-time staff of 17 at this nonprofit, nonpartisan online San Antonio news source.The newsroom tackles the city’s problems and challenges, and it spotlights innovative solutions. The Rivard Report stays attuned to and covers the city’s personalities, neighborhoods, businesses, culture, cuisine, arts and entertainment.

El Soberano — This three-year-old Chilean, Spanish-language publication focuses on high-quality reporting on social issues and civil society. The publication’s goal is not just to inform, but to also discuss and coordinate actions — and to bring attention to the political and business actions that are harmful to the quality of life for ordinary citizens. The newsroom stresses dialogue to create a more inclusive country.

Transitions — Founded in 1999, Transitions is an online magazine covering the 30 countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Published by a Prague-based Czech nonprofit, Transitions emphasizes using local voices to cover news and trends, with a particular focus on social issues, human rights, and other democracy-related topics that are often undercovered by traditional international media.

Daily MaverickDaily Maverick is a leading independent news publisher in South Africa, providing coverage of the nation’s politics and current affairs. Daily Maverick is viewed as one of the most innovative publishers on the African continent, having won the top journalism awards in South Africa. Few publishers can match the dedication to journalistic quality while also being open to experimental projects.

Reveal from The Center for Investigative ReportingReveal, heard on more than 470 public radio stations weekly and as a podcast, is produced by The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. Founded in 1977, The Center for Investigative Reporting is the nation’s first nonprofit investigative newsroom.

About helps millions of people create websites for small business, publishing, and blogging. We host sites for some of the biggest brands and publishers in the world — including Microsoft, News Corp. and CNN — and our users publish more than 87 million new posts every month. is a product of Automattic, Inc., a fully distributed company with more than 800 employees working from 69 countries. For more, visit

About the Google News Initiative

The Google News Initiative (GNI), is Google’s effort to help journalism thrive in the digital age and signifies a major milestone in the company’s 15-year commitment to the news industry. The GNI brings together everything we do in collaboration with the industry—across products, partnerships, and programs—to help build a stronger future for news. The GNI will fuel these efforts with a $300m commitment focused on three objectives: elevate and strengthen quality journalism; evolve business models to drive sustainable growth; and empower news organizations through technological innovation.

About The Lenfest Institute for Journalism

The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is a nonprofit organization devoted to sustaining and advancing local journalism. The Institute was founded in 2016 by cable television entrepreneur

H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest when he gifted both an endowment and sole ownership of the Philadelphia Media Network (The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and to the Institute. These news properties serve as a live lab for the Institute’s investments in innovative news initiatives, new technology and sustainable business models for local news in Philadelphia and across the country. For more, visit

About Civil

Civil is a community-owned platform for independent journalism. We are a growing network of news organizations and supporters committed to a free press, civil discourse and public accountability. Every Civil newsroom has pledged to abide by high ethical standards and is held accountable to the public they serve. Journalists on Civil and their supporters own the underlying network by owning Civil tokens, which give a say and share in how the project evolves. If you share our passion for journalism, become a member today to support and shape Civil directly. To learn more, including how to become a Civil member, visit

About ConsenSys

ConsenSys is a blockchain company dedicated to transforming the world’s digital architecture toward a more open, inclusive, and secure internet of value, commonly called Web3. ConsenSys is helping unlock new business models and value, gain efficiencies through a shared IT infrastructure, and utilize modern cryptographic methods to safeguard private user data. Through our unique global business comprised of anincubator, Enterprise Ethereum consulting arm, and investment fund, ConsenSys is building for the decentralized future. 

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit

About News Revenue Hub

The News Revenue Hub helps news organizations build the trust and financial support of their audiences by providing customized technology tools and proven strategies to create and sustain successful digital membership programs. For more, visit

About Spirited Media

Spirited Media is a digital news consultancy. Founded in 2014 by veterans of the Washington Post, AOL, DIgital First Media, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, the company ran local newsrooms in Philadelphia (Billy Penn), Pittsburgh (The Incline) and Denver (Denverite) after attracting funding from Gannett, the founders of Business Insider, and Patch.


Announcing Newspack

Newspack by

Automattic Inc, the parent company of, is joining with other news industry leaders to develop an advanced open-source publishing and revenue-generating platform for news organizations. The effort is designed to address some of the persistent obstacles to creating economically sustainable models for journalism, particularly at the local level.

You can read more about the project, which is named Newspack by, here.

A huge thank you to all who applied to become charter participants in the development of the program! The Newspack team is reviewing all applications and will be responding shortly.