Moonshine Ink, a WordPress Publisher in California Explains The Future of Their Local News

I got talking to a publisher in California this week: Moonshine Ink in California. They have been publishing for over 20 years. They’re currently WordPress-based, with a print edition. We chatted because they use the PublishPress Authors plugin that our team develop.

What particularly stood out to me with Moonshine Ink was the wonderful job they do of explaining of why their local news is worth supporting.

I highly recommend this post from 2019: “Does Moonshine Ink Have a Future?” and also this post from 2022: “Reflections and Projections”. Also check out this welcome post for their summer intern.

This quote sums up what Moonshine Ink does:

“Moonshine Ink serves the Truckee/North Tahoe region, a place of unimaginable beauty and inconceivably complex government. In our coverage area, there are two states, five counties (more or less), 19 special districts, and special cases, like the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. It’s a jurisdictional quagmire. Over the years, we’ve been the only media to “poke the bear” and investigate local government to the point where we really pissed people off. In my mind, this is a good thing.

Schneps Media Runs Local New York Websites on WordPress

If you’re in the New York area, you may have heard of Schneps Media or at least you’ve seen their publications.

Schneps run dozens of local newspapers and they’re standardized their digital versions on WordPress. Their sites focus on specific areas and communities in New York. They cover local neighborhood news, Spanish-language groups, LGBQT issues, Caribbean community, and now sports. Here’s the full list of papers.

A typical example site in the network is The Queens Courier. To run the network, they appear to have a custom plugin installed to allow them to publish centrally to all those sites via the WordPress REST API.

QNS Local news on WordPress

This is one of several private WordPress platforms being built by publishers such as Penske Media, MediaNews Group, and Meredith.

The Cardinal News Provides Local News to Virginia Using WordPress

We started KinshiPress because high-quality journalism is really important, and almost all new, high-quality journalism uses WordPress. The Cardinal News is a great new example from Virginia that launched in early 2022.

They have a staff of five journalists, all of whom work remotely. The site is online-only and non-profit. They cover southwest Virginia, an area that is so rural that the writers struggle to get reliable internet at home.

You can read some background on the launch here.

The Cardinal News team are taking donations via WooCommerce and are off to a good start:

“The e-commerce channel has worked very well for us. People opt-in for our newsletter, and many donate small, monthly amounts,” said Rife. “We are surprised by how quickly The Cardinal News has become known throughout the state. Richmond has the second-largest number of our readers, and many say it’s because they are looking for different coverage.”

The Cordova Times is a 108 Year Old Publisher on WordPress

  • Are you good with WordPress?
  • Do you have journalism skills?
  • Do you want to live in beautiful Prince Edward Sound in Alaska?

We have the opportunity for you: The Cordova Times is 108 year old WordPress-based local newspaper and it is available for free. The small weekly in remote South-Central Alaska (only accessible by boat or plane) has won a lot of awards including “Alaska’s Best Weekly” for two years in a row.

The newspaper is owned by a tribe who are looking to pass on ownership to a suitable candidate. They are making the newspaper available for free.

The newspaper sells advertising and also subscriptions: “The Cordova Times is $2 an issue or $104 for the whole year. Price includes delivery via U.S.P.S. Local Cordovans can choose to have their paper delivered to their door by a local paper delivery kid.”

The Cordova Times WordPress

Telling the Story of New WordPress Publishing Start-Ups

The Nieman Lab has a story up today about what it’s like to launch a newspaper. The writer launched his paper called Lookout in California 18 months ago and has an interesting story to tell. They aren’t using WordPress, but he’s part of a group of publishing start-ups and many of them are, including LBPost.com and ColoradoSun.com.

This a very practical article about the nitty-gritty of getting launched. Here’s a key quote:

With one common mission — to pay more talented journalists to produce incisive, community-bettering journalism — we no longer need to debate what’s going to pay for it. The two main funding drivers are the ones that have driven journalism for centuries. First, advertising: Display, sponsorship, branded content, promoted content, new “classifieds,” or whatever. Second, circulation: Subscription, membership or underwriting. We can now add philanthropy to the mix too. (You could add “events” as well, but those are really member or ad support.)

This items line up well with our article on Civil Beat in Hawaii. Their goal is “25% small donors, 25% larger local donors, 25% institutional giving and 25% ads and sponsorships.”