On Monday, Facebook announced it was investing an extra $100 million in the news industry due to the coronavirus pandemic. The social media platform had already invested $300 million in journalists worldwide since the outbreak began.
"The news industry is working under extraordinary conditions to keep people informed during the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when journalism is needed more than ever, ad revenues are declining due to the economic impact of the virus. Local journalists are being hit especially hard, even as people turn to them for critical information to keep their friends, families, and communities safe," wrote Campbell Brown, VP Global News Partnerships in a blog post.
The $100 million will be separated in two. $25 million will be in the form of emergency grant funding for local news and $75 million will be given in additional marketing spend to move money over to news organizations worldwide.
"Through the COVID-19 Community Network grant program, direct funding is helping journalists cover important stories when we all need them most. We're building on this work and will direct a portion of these funds to publishers most in need in the hardest-hit countries," added Campbell.
The blog post provided examples of how the first round of grants was used to support COVID-19 coverage. The Post and Courier in South Carolina took down its paywall for coronavirus-related stories.
The Southeast Missourian in Missouri began publishing email newsletters about the virus while the El Paso Matters in Texas will now expand their coronavirus coverage in El Paso and across the border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
"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.