Facebook announced on Tuesday it will commit $300 million to journalism projects to help local outlets strengthen their newsgathering operations and build their readership and subscription models.
“We’re going to continue fighting fake news, misinformation, and low quality news on Facebook,” said Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of news partnerships in a company blog post. “But we also have an opportunity, and a responsibility, to help local news organizations grow and thrive.”
Among the funded initiatives are: a $20 million investment in a program to help local outlets design and execute subscription and membership models; a $5 million endowment to create a grant program with the Pulitzer Center for local multimedia reporting projects; and a $2 million investment in Report for America, an initiative to recruit and fund journalists to cover under-covered topics in local newsrooms across the country.
Facebook said it decided to commit to the journalism initiatives based on feedback from users on what they wanted to see on he platform and from news outlets who told the company how to better boost their audience impact. “We heard one consistent answer: people want more local news, and local newsrooms are looking for more support,” Brown said. Facebook added that, over time, these initiatives can elevate civic engagement, which in turn can boost interest in local news.
Last year, Google pledged the same dollar amount, over the same timeline, to combat misinformation and support journalism, with a focus on boosting subscriptions to local news outlets.
The investments are significant because of the tech giants' dominance in the market for online advertising, which has exacerbated the decline of American newsrooms. Together, the two companies command about 58 percent of the digital ad market.
Local news has been especially hit by the collapsing news media ecosystem, with fewer customers willing to spend subscription dollars.