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Facebook Invests $100M to Support News Industry During Coronavirus Crisis
Kathleen Greenler Sexton --- Subscription Expert Kathleen Greenler Sexton --- Subscription Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Boston , MA
Wednesday, April 01, 2020


Social media platform Facebookis investing $100 million to support the news industry as it struggles throughthe coronavirus pandemic. News organizations are trying to keep up with importantCOVID-19 coverage, while losing significant advertising revenue during the crisis.Some, like Gannettand BuzzFeed, are facing unpaid furloughs and pay cuts as a result, and thistrend is sure to continue. Facebook’s investment includes $25 million inemergency grant funding for local news organizations through the FacebookJournalism Project and $75 million in additional marketing spend to mediacompanies around the world.

$25 million in emergency grant funding

Funded by Facebook, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism andthe Local Media Association, the COVID-19Community Network grant program will provide direct funding to journalistsand publishers in the countries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. In thefirst round of funding, Facebook will provide 50 newsrooms in the U.S. andCanada with $5,000 to help cover unexpected costs related to covering thepandemic. The grants are intended to cover unbudgeted costs like increasing thefrequency of publishing, fighting misinformation, and serving vulnerable and at-riskgroups.

Some of the mediaoutlets to receive the emergency grants include Advocate Media (Dallas, Texas);The Charlotte Ledger (Charlotte, North Carolina); CNY Latino (DeWitt, New York);Entre Hermanos (Seattle, Washington); NotiCel (San Juan, Puerto Rico); WURDRadio (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and Mission Local (San Francisco,California).

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News Media Canada and The Independent News Challenge joinedFacebook, Lenfest and the Local Media Association to support journalistscovering remote areas in Canada. Recipients of grant funding in Canada includeFort Frances Times Ltd. (Fort Frances, Ontario) and Grizzly Gazette (1990) Inc.Swan Bills, Alberta).

News outlets are struggling to cover coronavirus news while losing advertising dollars. Facebook and its journalism and media partners are investing $100 million to help. Image courtesy of Bigstock Photos

The Post and Courier in South Carolina used its grant totake down its paywall for coronavirus stories, cover travel costs, and provideremote work capabilities to cover more rural parts of the state. The southeastMissourian used its grant to publish email newsletters with coronaviruscoverage, beef up its remote work technology, and identify ways to reach elderlyreaders if their print operations get interrupted.

“This money will not only help keep journalists reportingright now amidst the crisis, the funding will also fuel opportunities for localmedia to accelerate business transformation toward a more sustainable digitalfooting,” said Nancy Lane, CEO of Local Media Association, in the announcement.

Janis Ware, publisher of The Atlanta Voice, also commentedon the investment.

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

$75 million in marketing spend

In addition to the emergency grant funding, Facebook willinvest $75 million to help with marketing costs. According to a March 30tweet by Campbell Brown, vice president of global news partnerships, theincrease in marketing spend will go directly to news organizations tocompensate for the loss in advertising revenue. Some of the money will be spenton Facebook ads, while some of it will go toward buying ad space in local newspublications and donating that space to small businesses who can’t afford tobuy ads right now.

“…all $75M will go to and help the bottom line of strugglingnews orgs,” said Brownin response to a question by Recode’s Kara Swisher on Twitter.

This $100 million investment is in addition to the $300million Facebook has already committed to journalism and journalismpartnerships through the Facebook Journalism Project.

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

Insider Take:

Whether you love Facebook or hate it, this is a generous donationto an industry that was already struggling to stay afloat. The emergency grants,offered by Facebook and its journalism and media partners, will help smaller newsorganizations with immediate needs while the marketing spend will help newsorganizations fill financial gaps with advertising dollars. At the same time,Facebook is supporting small businesses who are also fighting to stay aliveright now. This is a much-needed hand up to the industry. It won’t be enough tosave all news outlets or fix all of their struggles, but it is a step in theright direction.

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