The future of cheap news: two pages, infinite content!

Those fine folks at WordPress have unveiled a new project to help propel thrusting news organisations into a brave new world of well, meagre budgets, lower headcount and minuscule margins.

More seriously, though, the NewsPack initiative sounds like A Good Thing. WordPress clearly seems to think so, judging by the news release.

Look, straws! Grasp them!

The need for a cheap but polished publishing platform is urgent, as anyone who has witnessed the decline of regional and local news coverage will recognise. WordPress buffs the issue to a satin sheen, to avoid sending its readers into an emotional tailspin:-

With many local news organizations struggling to find sustainable models for journalism, we’re seeing a need for an inexpensive platform that provides the technology and support that lets news organizations build their businesses and focus on what they do best — providing critical reporting for their communities.

From the blog

Amusingly, the ‘click here for more’ link on this page takes you to another blog page in a different snazzy format, which clicks through to… the original blog page. And so on.

And on, and on.

I think they’ve hit upon something here. It’s the future of cheap news: infinite content, a bit of user interaction and two pages of copy!

All we need now is a fluffy press release from our PR chums at Phill, Space & Leggatt, and copy – paste – boom!

I must away now. Daughter #1 has been on gruel all week, and I’ve promised her a visit to her Caledonian uncle, Ronald McDonald. He’ll spoil her with his usual gifts of salt, fat, sugar and gristle.

The end of the beginning

The clock ticked. Somewhere under the desk a fan whirred. A fly wandered across the screen and paused to rub its forelegs together before continuing its traverse. I was minded of a vaguely mindless aphorism by a self-betterment type whose name I never bothered committing to memory: ‘Start before you’re ready.’

I’m not, so I have.

After a few days, lots of edits and a quantity of stimulant drink, I have to concede that I’ll never gather momentum unless I’m actually moving. So – subject matter be damned – this needs to see the light of day, while I ponder my next move and wrap my head around WordPress, the technical underpinning of this blog thing.

And if, when you read this, the title image is still a street in a chilly-looking business district, then I’ve not managed to swap it for something better. I didn’t even choose the City/Wall Street graphic. It just appeared, presumably assuming that the purpose of is to flog some dubious but over-priced business service aimed at ‘re-engineering your enterprise to leverage best practice’ or some such guff.

Speaking of guff, here’s the default placeholder text for this post:-

What goes into a blog post? Helpful, industry-specific content that: 1) gives readers a useful takeaway, and 2) shows you’re an industry expert.

Use your company’s blog posts to opine on current industry topics, humanise your company, and show how your products and services can help people.

I suppose I can claim that this is ‘industry-specific content’, if the industry in question is powered by a mildly cynical instinct to question assumptions, wherever they might lurk. And if this is the case then I’m certainly an expert, oh yes.

The phrase ‘useful takeaway’ just makes me hungry.

I like the word ‘opine’. Seems a decent string of letters to help dig you out of a Scrabble hole.

All companies consist of humans (unless they are tax evasion vehicles operating out of a Panamanian office block). The issue is not ‘humanising’, but ‘intellectualising’: most people will be relieved to learn that the ‘service provider’ (that’ll be me) is more than just a dead hand on the tiller. Some brainpower is involved.

There, I’ve managed to convince myself that I’m a polished blogging machine. I think in the next post I ought to set out my stall a little, to give you more idea where I’m coming from and, indeed, going. Suffice to say, for now, that little is off-limits. Life’s constrained enough without taking any more on.

A warthog, yesterday.
A warthog. One of these days I might actually explain why it’s here.