Google has announced their plans to partner with both WordPress and Automattic to create a low-cost, user-friendly publishing platform for local news and other small publishing teams called Newspack.
Google has invested $1.2 million to create Newspack, which they describe as a “fast, secure, low-cost publishing system, tailor-made to the needs of newsrooms.”
The goal of this project is to enable journalists to write articles and cover news stories without needing the advanced technical knowledge it takes to run a website, but as the line between journalism and content continues to blur, this tool will undoubtedly be of value to content creators as well.
In their announcement, the companies cited the pain points of running a modern-day publishing company - how even long-running, successful local newspapers have had to cut back on staff and news coverage, and new journalists struggle with the technical issues that come with running a website.
Newspack, in a nutshell, will remove the barriers people face when trying to share their content with the world.
Elements like website design, CMS management, and technical up-keep can be extremely difficult for small to medium publishing companies with already scarce resources, but by eliminating these pain points, people can focus on producing great editorial content for their communities.
For marketers, trying to ramp up their content creation or lean into the Content Inc model, this is should help scaling content efforts dramatically.
How Will Newspack Work?
At first glance, Newspack will appear to be a stripped-down, more lightweight form of WordPress (which is a popular choice for brand websites and blogs).
Users will also have access to all of the open-source plugins created by the WordPress development community, so they can customize it to their liking if they want specific features.
However, there is more going on under the hood that makes this ideal for small to medium publishing teams, which WordPress CEO Kinsey Wilson explains as:
“The goal is to both make sure that the catalog of publishing tools as well as business tools they need to be able to run what one hopes is a sustainable news operation are addressed simultaneously. It’s not simply a CMS for a newsroom, but a full business system that enables publishing and monetization at the same time.”
Essentially, Newspack aims to provide a clean, easy-to-use user experience for both publishers using the tool in the backend, and their audiences reading their articles.
Google refers to it as “an opinionated CMS: it knows the right thing to do, even when you don’t.”
Breaking Barriers for Marketers
By building these best practices right into the tool, content creators have all the tools they need to run a sustainable newsroom operation, and profitable business operation, without needing advanced technical knowledge.
In preparation for this release, stakeholders in the platform have been conducting research with a number of local publishers to determine what features and capabilities actually contribute to publisher’s success - both in terms of getting the work done, and the business impact of that work.
Google’s already shared some of what they’ve learned in the process in a recent blog post on succeeding with Google News.
They shared that they’ll be using these insights to help develop the full-feature set Newspack offers, which Google is playing a key role in advising on.
Google also stated that they’ll be providing technical support for integrating Google products into the platform, so we can expect some familiar features included as well.
Overall, Newspack removes a lot of the barriers that often come with building and scaling a content machine for marketers. For those looking to grow their efforts, improve their results, and even possibly monetize them, the platform’s offerings will be a welcome ally.
When Is It Available?
Newspack is expected to launch in beta form in July, and development will continue until January 2020.
However, if you think your company is a good fit for Newspack, you can apply to be a part of the Newspack development program, where you’ll get early access to the early stages of the tool and provide feedback.
There is an extensive list of requirements to be considered for early access, and interested parties can apply before February 1st to be considered.
The Future of Website & Content Mangement
While Newspack still has a long way to go until it’s complete, I can’t help but wonder how this development will influence website and content management practices down the line.
A great website is no longer a “nice-to-have” for most businesses - it’s a necessity and the same can be said about content. Without a fast, user-friendly, keyword optimized website, it can be hard to get found and gain customers.
The push for a platform like Newspack is a clear signal that the lack of technical knowledge to effectively manage a website and content is creating a real disadvantage.
I wouldn’t be surprised Newspack’s model “built-in best practices” coupled with an easy to use interface is replicated and adapted for different industries down the line.
We already have many platforms that claim to do something similar on the market today, but with Google backing a project - we know more is always coming.
Google dominates essentially every market they’re in, and each update is made to provide a better experience to website managers and users. Moving that to actually creating websites seems like the next logical next step.