Facebook has pledged $100 million to fund news media to help them overcome the economic crunch they are facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Out of this, $25 million will be given as an emergency grant to local news establishment through the Facebook Journalism Project, and $75 million will be given to news organizations around the world for marketing spend, said a statement issued by Facebook.
The virus has led to many companies cutting their marketing budget which has impacted the advertising revenues of many news publishers, especially the print media.
Many organizations have cut down on the print issues with the advertisements drying up. Many have closed temporarily till the virus crisis passes over, or the government and health authorities are able to get it under control.
Even the 160-year-old newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, published from the Vatican, suspended printing last week. The latest in line of several print publishers struggling to operate after the outbreak. Some weeklies have laid off most of their employees. BuzzFeed and American Media have initiated pay cuts. In Louisiana, The Advocate and The Times-Picayune have furloughed some staff and put the rest on four-day workweeks, reports the New York Times.
Facebook has started a COVID-19 Community Network grant program, which plans to fund local journalists to cover stores related to the pandemic spread. The company feels that it is most important that full coverage is given to this crisis so that the right information reaches people. 50 local newsrooms across Canada and North America received an initial grant of $5000 each to meet incidentals in covering news related to the coronavirus. The move is supported by the Lenfest Institute of Journalism and the Local Media Association.
“We’re building on this work and will direct a portion of these funds to publishers most in need in the hardest hit countries,” read the statement.
“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 the 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.
All over the world corporate entities are pledging money, skills and manufacturing facilities to help tide over governments facing hospital equipment shortages and more. The automobile industry is chipping in to manufacture masks and ventilators. Tesla, Ford, Volkswagen, General Motors and Mercedes; all have committed to helping in manufacturing ventilators or have offered their engineering facilities or premises to ramp up the manufacturing process.
On Friday, Google-parent Alphabet said it would donate more than $800 million in funds and ad credits to businesses, government and health organizations.
The $100 million funding is in addition to the $300 million Facebook has committed to journalists and news media organizations across the world to bring diverse and inclusive news to the world.
The social media conglomerate has partnered with Report for America, the Pulitzer Center, the Community News Project and the Facebook Journalism Project’s Local News Accelerator training program.
The organization feels that the crisis has proved how local media outlets facilitate disseminate Information and are a vital public service. By investing in such services Facebook wants to help get the right facts and news to the people.