Blockchain Startup ConsenSys, Google Back WordPress’ Publishing Platform For News Organizations

News | January 15, 2019 By: parent company Automattic, in partnership with News Revenue Hub and Spirited Media, is developing an advanced open-source publishing and revenue-generating platform for news organizations.

Called “Newspack by,” the project will be designed to address some of the persistent obstacles to creating economically sustainable models for journalism, particularly at the local level. It will be developed on’s cloud-based platform and incorporate many of the best practices in digital publishing.

Automattic said that they have raised $2.4 million in funding for the first year of the project. Google, through the Google News Initiative, has committed $1.2 million. Other funders include The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, which is contributing $400,000, ConsenSys, the venture studio backing blockchain journalism startup Civil Media, which is contributing $350,000, and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which is contributing $250,000. An additional $200,000 from a fifth source is expected to be contributed toward the project later this month.

The goal of the project is to to help small digital publishers get onto the platform quickly and provide them with an affordable system that incorporates the “best editorial and business practices” from across the industry.

“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 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.”

News Revenue Hub and Spirited Media will be launching a proof of concept with up to a dozen news sites by mid-2019 and then expand to supporting up to 60 sites by early 2020. The platform will also include a native plug-in for Civil, which will allow any interested newsroom using the platform to easily join Civil’s community-owned and operated blockchain-based journalism network and/or permanently archive content in decentralized, tamper-proof storage environments.

“Local newsrooms face many obvious challenges, but we do see new examples of success,” said Jim Albrecht, director of news ecosystem products at Google. “Unfortunately, the innovation in technology, editorial focus, and monetization necessary to achieve this success lies beyond the reach of many small organizations. By funding Newspack, we hope to extend the best practices of these market leaders to local publishers generally.”