Facebook announced Monday morning a new WordPress plugin for Instant Articles, essentially greasing the skids for mass adoption of the program among news organizations.
The plugin is being built in partnership with Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com, and helps translate news stories to Facebook’s Instant Articles format. This removes a significant hurdle for news organizations, which previously needed someone with coding capabilities to engineer the go-between.
The plugin also works on media associated with articles, including images, videos and interactive graphics, according to a blog post by Facebook’s Chris Ackermann this morning.
We’ve worked with a small group of publishers on WordPress to beta test the plugin as a seamless way to adapt web content for the Instant Articles format, with a built-in suite of interactive tools that help stories come to life on mobile.
The launch of the plugin comes months before Facebook opens Instant Articles, its mobile-friendly news publishing platform, to publishers around the world. Until the social network’s F8 conference in April, Instant Articles will only be available to a select group of publishing partners.
WordPress is the industry-standard free content management system for news organizations around the world (including the one you’re reading now), so it follows that Facebook would team up with Automattic to create the plugin. It’s potentially a win-win for both Facebook and publishers: The social network gets to bring aboard droves of news organizations to Instant Articles — thereby making it more influential — and outlets gain easier access to a new publishing platform along with the untapped digital revenue it might offer.
Ongoing concerns about the rise of Instant Articles include questions about who ultimately controls the news. By publishing their stories on Facebook, news organizations are ceding some authority over the distribution of their work. Emily Bell, the director of Tow Centre for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, recently wrote that news websites are becoming increasingly obsolete as distributed content — content published on platforms not owned by news organizations — become more and more prevalent.
Accelerated Mobile Pages, Google’s bid to speed up the mobile Web, also debuted a WordPress plugin aimed at easing the transition to its burgeoning standard.