Media

Facebook plans to invest $300M in local news partnerships

The move comes as news organizations continue to struggle with declining revenue

Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook announced Tuesday a pledge to invest $300 million in news initiatives, including partnerships, programs, and content, over the next three years.

The move comes as the news industry continues to struggle with declining ad revenue. Many publishers have blamed technology companies for their financial woes since advertising has moved away from print to online.

"The industry is going through a massive transition that has been underway for a long time," Campbell Brown, Facebook's head of global news partnerships, told The Associated Press. "None of us have quite figured out ultimately what the future of journalism is going to look like but we want to be part of helping find a solution."

It's also a likely attempt for the social media giant to try to overcome criticism it has received for misinformation and election-meddling that has reportedly happened on its platform.

What's the story?

The company said it would focus on supporting local newsrooms and helping news organizations build sustainable business models.

Facebook plans to provide reporting grants for local newsrooms, expand its Accelerator Pilot to help local newsrooms with subscription and membership models, and invest in nonprofits that support local news.

"I strongly believe that because smaller publishers don't have the same resources as larger ones, this is really where we can have the most impact," Brown told Axios.

"Over time, we think this work can have the added benefit of fostering civic engagement, which research suggests is directly correlated with people's reading of local news," according to the company's news release.

Where exactly will the money go?

Pulitzer Center: A $5 million grant to launch "Bringing Stories Home," which will provide reporting grants to local newsrooms. Each year, it will support 12 local newsrooms with local in-depth, multimedia reporting projects and an additional $5 million matching gift from Emily Rauh Pulitzer, chair of the Pulitzer Center.

Report for America: A $2 million investment to help place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms across America over the next five years.

Knight-Lenfest Institute Local News Transformation Fund: A $1 million investment in this fund will be dedicated to news innovation and technology to improve newsgathering.

Local Media Association and Local Media Consortium: A $1 million investment across the two organizations to help more than 2,000 local member newsrooms to develop revenue streams through branded content both on and off Facebook.

American Journalism Project: A $1 million investment to grow and sustain local civic news organizations through venture philanthropy.

Community News Project: A $6 million investment in partnership with some of the biggest regional publishers in the United Kingdom to recruit "community journalists" and place them in local newsrooms over a two-year period.

Accelerator Pilot: The company will invest $20 million into the pilot program to expand it into global markets, including Europe.

"Accelerate: Local News" Summit: Early this year, Facebook will host a two-day summit in partnership with the Knight Foundation and the Online News Association to "discuss, design and drive toward solutions that address today's most pressing local news challenges."

What are the reactions?

Some have welcomed Facebook's initiatives to partner with the media industry.

"I think they are recognizing that trusted, credible content is of benefit not only to local publishers but to them," Fran Wills, CEO of the Local Media Consortium, told the AP.

Still, Facebook's algorithm changes have caused tensions between the company and some publishers that may be difficult to overcome.

"There's a lot of critics out there in the local media space, and there are a lot of bad feelings about algorithm changes Facebook made last year. But local media still recognizes the need to work with platforms and be more collaborative," Nancy Cawley Lane, president of the Local Media Association, told Axios.

One last thing…
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