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News Industry Consortium To Develop Blockchain-powered News Publishing Platform

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A news industry consortium is looking to develop an advanced open-source publishing and revenue-generating platform for digital news startups. The blockchain-powered platform is expected to address some of the persistent obstacles to creating economically sustainable models for journalism, particularly at the local level.

The platform to be called Newspack by WordPress.com will be developed on WordPress.com's cloud-based platform.

The news industry consortium, including Automattic, Spirited Media and News Revenue Hub, have already secured $2.4 million in funding for the first year of the project. Automattic is the parent company of WordPress.com.

The funding for the project has been generated primarily from Google, through the Google News Initiative, which has committed $1.2 million. Other fundings include $400,000 from The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, $350,000 from ConsenSys - the venture studio backing Civil Media, $250,000 from James L. Knight Foundation, and an additional $200,000 from an unrevealed fifth source.

The Lenfest Institute for Journalism will be the fiscal sponsor for the project, managing the grant funding process and reporting broadly in the public interest on the progress and results of the project. It will also provide guidance and expertise.

The Newspack platform is expected to many smaller news startups that struggle with the complexities of technology selection, development, maintenance, hosting, and security, which in turn can be an obstacle to effective revenue generation.

Newspack will 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.

The consortium will pilot the platform with about a dozen sites by mid-2019, and then expand to supporting up to 60 sites by early 2020.

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