A group of media, journalism and tech companies has joined veteran media executive Merrill Brown to create a full-service publishing platform specifically built for digital news publishers called The News Project (TNP).

Why it matters: Brown says his company is different from other digital publishing platforms, like Maven, Squarespace and Medium, because his focuses solely on news.

This model more closely resembles The Washington Post's ARC publishing tech businesses, which signed Advance Local Media and Boston Globe Media this month, as well as Bonnier Corp. and Philly.com earlier this year.

The Associated Press has agreed to work with TNP on a set of services that can be accessed by participating publishers through the TNP platform. The AP will partner in two areas:

  • Give participating websites access to its wire on a subscription basis
  • Help sell TNP's tech worldwide with sales and marketing infrastructure

Publishers will pay a fee to launch on the platform and then will have the option to pick from a menu of services that will be made available through a monthly fee. Brown says payment of an ongoing monthly fee won't be mandatory and that the options are designed to give publishers flexibilities around their business models.

"We might sell ads for some publishers, or sell sponsorships for others," says Brown.

  • Brown says he's raised many hundreds of thousands in a seed round that includes  several former high-end media and technology executives, like Mark Walsh, former former Amazon Tech VP Neil Roseman, DC attorney Scott Fredericksen and his wife Dana Fredericksen, and former eMarketer Publisher Crystal Gurin.
  • He anticipates a lot of its money will come from larger commercial publishers (like large publishers that want to launch quick-turn websites around specific verticals), in order to fund smaller ones, like non-profits.
  • The company's first customer is Opioid Watch, a nonprofit news service published by The Opioid Research Institute.
  • The platform is currently being built by Digital development company 10up. Piano, a global leader in digital subscription and audience intelligence technologies, is building out the company's subscription tech. 

What's next? Brown says he's currently focused on scaling the technology, but has had conversations with many advertising executives about launching an ad-driven business to support publishing partners. 

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