Musical Chairs in the WordPress News Space

If you haven’t already heard, WP Engine has bought out WP Daily – or at least what was left of it.

WP Daily shut down suddenly on July 10, much to the shock of its fans, at first shutting readers out of its old posts before allowing access to its archives the next day.

While all this was happening, WP Engine was quietly working away in the background on its own news offering, Torque, the “WordPress News Core”. On Friday, new editor Michelle Oznowicz announced the online magazine to the world, posting a Letter from the Editor outlining the site’s intentions:

Newspapers

“Today we are thrilled to be introducing Torque, the WordPress News Core. Our goal with Torque is to create a hub for community building and offer a forum for WordPress news. Dedicated entirely to the advancement of the WordPress ecosystem, Torque operates on the open-source philosophy that together, we can accomplish more than we can separately.

“My vision for Torque includes a fierce sense of editorial independence. We are published by WP Engine, but I was brought on from the outside in order to spearhead and manage an autonomous publication, not to promote a brand. Torque will not shy away from controversy. Instead, when we feature biased or opinionated pieces, we will always try to represent both sides of an issue.”

On the WP Daily acquisition, Oznowicz wrote, “we couldn’t stand by and see all the contents fall by the wayside, so we swiftly made moves to resurrect its legacy.”

Torque logo.
WP Engine has launched its own news site, Torque.

The wpdaily.co domain now redirects to torquemag.io, and Torque has also taken over the WP Daily Twitter account.

The WP Daily buyout continues a pattern of large WordPress companies taking on news sites – Automattic owns Code Poet, Matt Mullenweg snapped up WP Tavern and now WP Engine has acquired WP Daily.

This trend certainly raises questions about the integrity of news sources in the WordPress community. You wouldn’t see Apple buying AppleInsider, Microsoft buying CNET orGoogle buying Wired, as our own James Farmer pointed in a post in May after Mullenweg was revealed as WP Tavern’s mystery buyer.

Will Torque report objectively on WP Engine activities? Only time will tell.

(And just for the record, WPMU doesn’t pretend to be an independent news source.)

In a post at WP Engine, the company’s brand ambassador Austin Gunter posted over the weekend that while Torque is owned by WP Engine, the publication will maintain editorial independence as a publication.

“The purpose of the magazine is to connect the rapidly growing WordPress community, from the core ‘family’ of us who attend WordCamps together, to the millions of people who produce and consume content on the nearly 70 Million WordPress sites on the web,” Gunter wrote.

Michelle Oznowicz
Michelle Oznowicz, who heads up WP Engine’s new news site, has previously managed celebrity magazines.

So who is Michelle Oznowicz? In her Letter from the Editor she outlines her experience managing celebrity websites and writing and editing for media outlets, including Radical Media, TakePart and SOMA Magazine.

Her IMDB profile reveals she has directed music videos and written screenplays, “but her true passion lies in documentary.” In 2010 she was a script supervisor for the “non-sexist” GoDaddy commercial competition winner, “Find Your Voice.”

Her appointment as editor of Torque appears to be her first foray into the world of WordPress.

Torque’s launch comes as ManageWP – a site focused around helping website owners manage their self-hosted WordPress installations – makes its own debut into the WordPress news space.

According to ManageWP founder Vladimir Prelovac, the company’s news offering “is imagined as WordPress news on the go with a concept similar to popular news apps like Flipboard or ZIte with community features similar to inbound.org.”

“I am personally on the hunt for quality WordPress articles all day long as it is the industry we are in,” Prelovac says.

“There are so many fantastic sources and it has been very difficult to track them all.

“We want to build a place for the community to thrive and discover cool articles similar to reddit or former Digg.”

ManageWP CEO James Mowery posted a teaser about the news site on the company’s blog last month.

ManageWP News
ManageWP will launch its own news offering this weekend.

“If you’re anything like us, WordPress has a special place in your heart. So Team ManageWP has (been) working hard for the past few months to work on a community inspired project that we hope will show our appreciation and help the community grow even stronger,” Mowery wrote.

I contacted WP Daily’s former owner, 8BIT’s John Saddington, to find out more about the WP Engine deal but didn’t get a reply. 8BIT is gearing up for the launch of its iPhone app, PressGram, next month.

WP Daily was around for about six months and WP Candy seems to have quietly died out. However, Post Status looks to be going from strength to strength.

But how long will these new sites in the WordPress news space last?

It looks like this game of news musical chairs is just getting started. What will happen next? Have your say in the comments below.

Image credits: Zarko DrincicNS Newsflash.