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Facebook is investing $300 million to support local news

Facebook is investing $300 million to support local news
[Photo: Jovaughn Stephens/Unsplash]

The social media giant has announced that it will invest $300 million over the next three years in an initiative that is aimed at bolstering and supporting local news in communities around the country. The new initiative comes almost a year after Facebook tweaked the site’s algorithm to give users a bigger dose of local news, and with today’s announcement, it shows that that was just the start.

Announcing the new initiative, Campbell Brown, Facebook’s VP of global news partnerships, said:

There are two key areas where we hope to help: supporting local journalists and newsrooms with their newsgathering needs in the immediate future; and helping local news organizations build sustainable business models, through both our product and partnership work. 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…

News is a key part of Facebook’s mission to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. We’re going to continue fighting fake news, misinformation, and low quality news on Facebook. But we also have an opportunity, and a responsibility, to help local news organizations grow and thrive. We know we can’t do it alone, but there is more we can and will do to help.

And a majority of Facebook’s help in the area will come from the aforementioned $300 million investment in local news initiatives. Here’s how just some of that money will be put to use, according to Brown:

  • Pulitzer Center: a $5 million endowment gift to launch “Bringing Stories Home,” a gift that will provide local newsrooms across the country with reporting grants to foster coverage on topics that affect local communities. Each year, the fund will support at least 12 local in-depth, multimedia reporting projects, plus related community outreach. This gift will also unlock an additional $5 million matching gift from Emily Rauh Pulitzer, chair of the Pulitzer Center.
  • Report for America: a $2 million investment in the initiative to place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms across America over the next five years.
  • Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund: a $1 million investment in this fund will be dedicated to a news innovation and technology hub that is being created to help evaluate and improve how technology is used in U.S. newsrooms for newsgathering, product development, and sustainable business models. The Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced in September an initial $20 million, five-year commitment to this fund dedicated to strengthening local journalism in the digital age.

If Facebook’s push to highlight more local news stories last year made local news outlets happy, we’re betting a cool 300 mil makes them downright ecstatic.

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