Facebook, Mozilla, the City University of New York, and other tech industry leaders and nonprofits have joined together to launch a $14 million fund dedicated to advancing news literacy. The money will be invested in the News Integrity Initiative with the goal of increasing trust in journalism worldwide and “better informing the public conversation.”
Other backers of this investment include the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund, the Ford Foundation, the Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Tow Foundation, AppNexus, and Betaworks. Money will be allocated to applied research and projects, along with facilitating meetings with industry experts. The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism has been tasked with administering the project.
“As part of the Facebook Journalism Project, we want to give people the tools necessary to be discerning about the information they see online,” said Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of news partnership, in a statement. “Improving news literacy is a global concern, and this diverse group assembled by CUNY brings together experts from around the world to work toward building more informed communities.”
Facebook’s participation is somewhat controversial, as it has largely denied being a media company, especially rebuking claims that fake news on its site affected the outcome of last year’s U.S. presidential election. The social media company has also run into some criticism that it censored conservative viewpoints in its trending topics section. Company chief executive Mark Zuckerberg claims that didn’t happen, but the accusation led to some changes in the way trending topics are selected.
Over the past few months, Facebook has tried to strengthen its relationship with the press, even embarking on a roadshow to meet journalists and offering mea culpas to those in attendance.
“In high school U.S. history, I learned that a trustworthy press is the immune system of democracy,” said Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund. “As a news consumer, like most folks, I want news we can trust. That means standing up for trustworthy news media and learning how to spot clickbait and deceptive news.”
Right now, 19 organizations and individuals have signed up to work on this new project, including:
- Arizona State University in the U.S.
- Center for Community and Ethnic Media at CUNY Journalism School in the U.S.
- Constructive Institute at Aarhus University in Denmark
- Edelman based in the U.S.
- European Journalism Centre in the Netherlands
- Fundación Gabriel García Márquez para el Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano (FNPI) based in Colombia
- Hamburg Media School in Germany
- Hans-Bredow-Institut in Germany
- The Ida B. Wells Society in the U.S.
- International Center for Journalists based in the U.S.
- News Literacy Project based in the U.S.
- Polis, London School of Economics in the U.K.
- Ecole de Journalisme de Sciences Po (Sciences Po Journalism School) in France
- The Society of Publishers in Asia based in Hong Kong
- Trust Project based in the U.S.
- Walkley Foundation in Australia
- Weber Shandwick based in the U.S.
- Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Division for Freedom of Expression and Media Development headquartered in France
Additional backers and participants are being sought as the group continues working to better inform communities.