Newspack is an all-in-one platform that simplifies publishingand drives audience and revenue right out of the box. 

Newspack was launched in 2019 with the goal of providing local news organizations with a powerful, cost effective publishing platform that would support their journalistic ambitions and promote financial sustainability. Built on WordPress and hosted on WordPress.com’s cloud platform, we launched with the help of a dozen charter organizations. Today, more than 200 news sites are powered by Newspack and dozens more have signed on, demonstrating that a shared service model, built around industry best practices, is hard to beat.

A project of WordPress.com, with support from the Google News Initiative, the Knight Foundation, and The Lenfest Institute.

The gist

It’s not often you hear a publisher refer to their CMS as “the best thing since sliced bread.” But that’s how Sonny Messiah Jiles, CEO of the nearly 100-year old Houston Defender described Newspack from the main stage of the Knight Media Forum in March.

It was an unexpected shout-out. CMS’s are an often maligned necessity of digital publishing.

But it was a reflection of how far Newspack has come in realizing a vision the Knight Foundation advanced a dozen years ago when it put $975,000 into an open source CMS for the Texas Tribune and the San Francisco Bay Citizen in the hopes that it would become a preferred, low-cost platform to “engage … readers, manage content and raise revenue.”

That investment has served the Tribune well. But the ambition of creating a wider platform for digital news never gained traction.

Newspack was founded in 2019 with similar purpose, and has enjoyed several advantages:

  • It is part of Automattic, the company that commercialized WordPress – the most widely used open source publishing system in the world
  • It was founded by journalists with deep experience in digital innovation
  • And it enjoyed early backing from the Knight Foundation, the Google News Initiative and the Lenfest Institute – lending financial runway and credibility to the effort.

Nearly four years after launching its first site, Newspack now has more than 200 publications on the platform, more than 100 prospects in the pipeline and is adding customers at a rate of at least a half dozen a month.

They range from New York Amsterdam News, one of the oldest Black publications in the U.S., to Signal Cleveland, the first in a network of community-led nonprofit newsrooms that have partnered with the American Journalism Project and local funders to strengthen independent reporting across Ohio. And it includes high-profile innovators such as VTDigger, Voice of San Diego, Outlier Media and Block Club Chicago.

In the US, nearly a third of Newspack’s customers are editors or publishers of color or serve historically marginalized communities.

Newspack is not merely providing convenience and cost-savings. It has created a vibrant community. And it is delivering financial results, driving newsletter conversion, reader revenue and advertising dollars for a wide range of for-profit and nonprofit publications.

The backstory

Automattic Inc. is a US-based software and services company and the commercial arm of WordPress, the open-source publishing software that powers more than 40 percent of the web. Automattic was founded in 2005 by Matt Mullenweg, one of the creators of WordPress. He is currently the CEO.

Automattic is a fully distributed company with nearly 2,000 employees in more than 100 countries. It is privately held and has raised $846 million in six funding rounds, the last in February 2021. 

Newspack is a division of Automattic and was founded in March 2019 with the goal of providing an affordable publishing and monetization platform for small and mid-sized independent local news publishers. In addition to providing technology and services, Newspack is committed to helping independent print and digital publishers find a path to financial sustainability.

Newspack has migrated and launched more than 200 sites and is home to a community of more than 1,000 publishers, editors and producers who actively engage with one another in our Slack workspace. 

Newspack’s market strength reflects a combination of factors

  • Competitive pricing, including free migration, site development, staging and launch
  • An exclusive focus on the needs of independent digital news publishers
  • Constant iteration and development with substantial input from the Newspack community
  • An experienced team of journalists and technologists who have worked at the forefront of digital publishing for much of their careers
  • Access to world-class engineering talent and back office services (including a globally distributed hosting platform) through our parent company, Automattic
  • And the open source nature of the platform which allows it to integrate an extensive array of third-party software and services

The team

The Newspack team is composed of 10 engineers; a four-person product/design team, an eleven-person support staff, and a business team of four, encompassing sales, administrative and strategic functions.

Team members collectively have over 100 years experience in digital news, having worked in senior leadership positions at local and national publications, ranging from The Lens in New Orleans (an investigative startup) to The New York Times. They have also held senior positions in industry associations including LION Publishers, the Institute for Nonprofit News and the Online News Association.

Technical and support members of the team have extensive WordPress experience, honed both at Automattic and in the wider WordPress community.

The Newspack team has a passion for local news that has only deepened as we’ve come to know the scores of local news editors and publishers using the platform. And it is the exclusive focus of our work. 

Meet the entire team

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of publishers using Newspack.

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