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The News Project, a full-service publishing platform specifically built for digital news publishers, has received a six-figure investment from WordPress.com VIP, the content management tech company owned by web development giant Automattic.

Why it matters: The News Project is a content management system business aimed at creating an accessible publishing platform for news companies. Publishing technology can be expensive and complicated for media upstarts or niche, local or small news companies. The investment will give The News Product customers access to the VIP services of Wordpress.

"From our earliest clients, news organizations were an integral part of WordPress’s growth from an open-source blogging platform to a technology that now powers more than 32% of all sites on the web. ... But in this difficult business climate for news organizations, we want to double down on our commitment to journalism and a free (and sustainable) press."
— Nick Gernert, Head of Wordpress.com VIP

What's new: News Project's founder, veteran media executive Merrill Brown, tells Axios that the company now has 16 investors as a part of its initial fundraising round, and it is in the final stages of completing the build of its proprietary content management system (CMS) that can be licensed on a monthly basis by news companies of all sizes and purposes.

The company's first paid subscriber to license the technology is CALmatters, a statewide politics and policy website based in California.

  • "It is a perfect launch customer for us," says Brown. "They have great editorial, and we have a great relationship. California is a great place to be covering news right now. It couldn’t be newsier, more active and more interesting."

What's next: Brown says the he expects to be announcing more customers in the next few months. The focus is on building a platform for news companies to publish about issues their readers care about, regardless of the news topic or locality.

Go deeper: Big Tech throws money at the local news problem

Go deeper

Updated 39 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Trump received COVID vaccine at White House in January — CDC director warns "now is not the time" to lift COVID restrictions.
  2. Education: More schools are reopening in the U.S.
  3. Vaccine: J&J CEO "absolutely" confident in vaccine distribution goals Most states aren't prioritizing prisons for COVID vaccines — Vaccine hesitancy is shrinking.
  4. Economy: Apple says all U.S. stores open for the first time since start of pandemic — What's really going on with the labor market.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.
  6. World: Latin America turns to China and Russia for COVID-19 vaccines.
Dave Lawler, author of World
58 mins ago - World

Latin America turns to China and Russia for COVID-19 vaccines

Several countries in the Americas have received their first vaccine shipments over the past few weeks — not from the regional superpower or from Western pharmaceutical giants, but from China, Russia, and in some cases India.

Why it matters: North and South America have been battered by the pandemic and recorded several of the world’s highest death tolls. Few countries other than the U.S. have the capacity to manufacture vaccines at scale, and most lack the resources to buy their way to the front of the line for imports. That’s led to a scramble for whatever supply is available.

More schools are reopening in the U.S.

Students settle into a classroom in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

More than 72% of K-12 students are now attending schools that offer in-person or hybrid models of learning.

The big picture: The U.S. is seeing an almost-universal return of schools that were in-person as of November, as well as a gradual return in parts of the country that had been virtual for almost a year.