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 WordPress.com, 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 WordPress.com 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 steve.beatty@automattic.com

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