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Facebook puts up another $100 million to support news industry during COVID-19 outbreak

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March 30, 2020, 2:26 pm

Facebook on Monday announced an additional $100 million investment to support the news industry that is working under extraordinary conditions to keep people informed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This includes $25 million in emergency grant funding for local news through the Facebook Journalism Project, and an extra $75 million in marketing to get money to publishers around the world at a time when their advertising revenue is declining. 

This investment is in addition to the support Facebook already pledged to the news industry in response to COVID-19: $1 million in grants for local news, $1 million in grants for fact-checking organizations, and a $1-million donation to the International Fact-Checking Network.

At a time when journalism is needed more than ever, ad revenues are declining due to the economic impact of the virus. Local journalists are being hit especially hard, even as people turn to them for critical information to keep their friends, families and communities safe. 

To hear more about this initiative as it evolves, please sign up for the Facebook Journalism Project newsletter.

The first round of these grants went to 50 local newsrooms in the US and Canada. Here are some examples of how they’ve used the funding to support their COVID-19 news coverage:

  • The Post and Courier, South Carolina
    Took down its paywall for coronavirus stories. It will use the grant to cover travel costs and remote work capabilities to extend coverage to rural, news desert portions of the state.
  • Southeast Missourian, Missouri
    Publishing email newsletters highlighting coronavirus coverage. The newspaper will use its grant to bolster remote work technology and on contingency plans for reaching elderly readers should print distribution be disrupted.
  • El Paso Matters, Texas
    New local online news organization launched earlier this year by former El Paso Times editor Bob Moore. The team will use their grant to hire freelance reporters and translators to expand coverage of coronavirus in El Paso and across the border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

“This money will not only help keep journalists reporting right now amidst the crisis, the funding will also fuel opportunities for local media to accelerate business transformation toward a more sustainable digital footing,” said Nancy Lane, CEO of Local Media Association.

“Local news organizations, especially hyper-local news organizations including those serving black and other underserved communities, have experienced challenges with the sustainability and distribution of news and information in the current media environment. COVID-19 has exacerbated an already existing crisis and our jobs have just gotten tougher. With such a sizable infusion from Facebook, local news organizations across the country will benefit as will our readers, our viewers and our listeners,” said Janis Ware, publisher of The Atlanta Voice.

This commitment builds upon $300 million we’ve committed already to serving journalists around the world through diverse and inclusive news programs and partnerships, including Report for America, the Pulitzer Center, the Community News Project and the Facebook Journalism Project’s Local News Accelerator training program.

If people needed more proof that local journalism is a vital public service, they’re getting it now. And while almost all businesses are facing adverse financial effects from this crisis, we recognize we’re in a more privileged position than most, and we want to help.

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