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Publishing platform Ghost started up a journalism development programme to build solutions for managing memberships, subscriptions and payment technologies, working in collaboration with three media organisations.

Applications to join "Ghost for Journalism" opened yesterday (18 January), and will close on 15 February.

Ghost, a non-profit launched in 2013 after a successful crowdfunding campaigned which raised £250,000, well above target, was started with the aim to create a publishing platform that better served writers.

“Up until now, [Ghost] has been very much in the personal blogging space, because that's all of the functionality which we had,” founder John O’Nolan told

“We've finally reached this point that we wanted to get to, of being able to move now into new features, new use cases, and then towards where we wanted to be, which is having some form of impact on online journalism, providing tools to make online news better.”

The publishing platform is open-source, and a hosted version is available at a cost. It has been downloaded over 1.2 million times since launch, and the organisations using it for blogs and campaigns include Sky News and NASA.

As part of the programme, Ghost is putting up $45,000 (£36,500) in credit for its hosted version, as well as offering the three selected media organisations engineering support, access to internal data and technology, and an open invitation to their meetings.

Ghost is looking to partner with independent media outlets in their early days, with small teams and flexible workflows in order to collaborate on building the features that will help them develop better solutions for managing memberships, subscriptions and payments.

The areas of development the programme is focused on centre around helping publishers build a closer relationship with their readers, offering audiences a more personalised experience on news websites, and helping media organisations manage new revenue streams from subscriptions. The solutions developed as part of the programme will be made available in the open-sourced platform.

“If we look outside the journalism and the news space, if we look at all the other technology start-ups or online communities, the concept of identity is really core to everything.

“This idea of identity and membership opens up what publications could potentially do for audiences, moving away from just optimising for anonymous page views and anonymous traffic towards actually growing an engaged community and forming a relationship with them. That's the single biggest thing that’s missing from modern technology platforms.”

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