WaPo’s Arc Platform Has Its First Paying Customer

Willamette Week takes the plunge.

While Arc, Washington Post’s publishing platform, was built in-house and designed for the needs of the Post newsroom, it was planned from the beginning as a customizable product that would be made available to other organizations, a new revenue stream for the organization.

After an initial test run with college papers at Columbia, Yale and the University of Maryland, the platform now has its first paying customer.

Willamette Week, a Pulitzer prize-winning alternative weekly, is the first publication to license the Post product. Arc offers customers a menu of à la carte options, allowing publications to choose the tools that fit their needs. The Oregon-based publication is using PageBuilder, the layout engine the Post recently finished migrating to itself, as well as WebSked, for newsroom planning.

The platform is getting high marks from its new customer. Willamette Week web editor Lizzy Acker said in the press release that “the ease of use, the flexibility of design and the knowledge of The Post’s team has been nothing short of remarkable.”

Willamette Week editor and publisher Mark Zusman told Nieman Lab’s Ken Doctor the new system’s simplicity of use is a time saver for journalists and allows the publication to easily experiment. “If you look at the site,” Zusman told Doctor, “you’ll see the sophistication. What you can’t see in the backend is the ease of use and the flexibility. If we want to have a completely different look on Monday from Tuesday, we’ve got the tools to do so.”

And so begins another new experiment in revenue-making in the lab of the digital age.