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Dan James

Last week Automattic, the company responsible for the hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.com), announced a new partnership with Google and other major media publishers.

The partnership in question is intended to help deliver a fresh way to produce small to medium online news publications. This potentially revolutionary project has been named Newspack.

First Thoughts – Google’s Stake

Matt Mullenweg, WordPress co-founder and Automattic CEO wrote on his blog:

It’s been a difficult climate for the news business, particularly at the local level. It also breaks my heart how much of their limited resources these organizations still sink into closed-source or dead-end technology.

I personally find it interesting that Automattic and partners have found that there is a need for Newspack, as it suggests that there is space that WordPress is somehow not filling. So far, details are light on the project, which so far has raised over $2m dollars in funding – with $1.2m dollars coming from the Google News Initiative.

It’s likely that Google wants to have a stake in this project in order to capture more revenue through advertising and improve its search offering.

It could do this in the way of providing quicker and easier access to news for search users. It could also to help further propel their AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) project to success; AMP is designed to speed websites up by providing a quicker, more streamlined experience of a website.

The Waiting Game

Newspack is also said to be an open source project in which anyone is able to contribute code and use the software for their own needs.

Right now, though, there aren’t any details for people who wish to support the project. No other details have since been shared with the public since the announcement and there doesn’t appear to be any milestones set out for the projects progress thus far.

One question that people were asking on the Automattic owned WPTavern.com news blog was whether or not Newspack will be based on WordPress or not. In the web industry, this is known as ‘forking’ – WordPress itself is a fork of an earlier piece of software called b2. Later on in his blog post, Matt said:

As you have come to expect from Automattic, everything will be open source and developed to the same standards WordPress itself is.

This seems to suggest that whilst it’ll be similar to WordPress and developed with the similar standards and principals, it won’t actually be a fork and instead written from the ground up with a fresh perspective on publishing.

Watch This Space

With this in mind, it could be a while before we start to see proper working installations of Newspack and are able to test it and ensure it is secure and stable for the fast-paced world of publishing.

What are your first impressions of Newspack so far? Do you think it’ll provide the target audience with the right things that WordPress doesn’t already offer to become a success?

This seems like a very interesting project that is worth keeping track of – it might even replace WordPress altogether!

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