Social media giant Facebook is investing $100 million to support local news organizations during the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to its previous commitment to spend $300 million over a three-year period.
Around $25 million of the new package will be emergency grant funding for local news via the Facebook Journalism Project. A further $75 million is additional marketing spend “to move money over to news organizations around the world,” Campbell Brown, VP of global news partnerships, said in a statement.
“At a time when journalism is needed more than ever, ad revenues are declining due to the economic impact of the virus,” Brown said. “Local journalists are being hit especially hard, even as people turn to them for critical information to keep their friends, families and communities safe.”
In a Facebook post Monday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said local news organizations are being particularly hard-hit by the virus outbreak, which has led to a sharp drop in advertising. “We’re hoping this will support many journalists through this period so they can continue doing their critical work of keeping all of us informed,” he wrote.
Facebook doesn’t have details right now about how the $100 million will be doled out. “We’ll be working with partners in the industry on how to best allocate this funding to serve critical needs across the local news ecosystem,” a company rep said.
Facebook’s COVID-19 Community Network grant program is already available to journalists, and some of the funds will go to publishers in the hardest hit countries, the company said. The first round of grants was disbursed to newsrooms in the U.S. and Canada.
Beneficiaries include the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.; the Southeast Missourian in Cape Girardeau, Mo.; and El Paso Matters in Texas.
Facebook’s previous investment of $300 million is distributed through several 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.
“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,” said Janis Ware, publisher of The Atlanta Voice.
“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.”
(Todd Spangler contributed to this article.)