Facebook today announced plans to invest $100 million to boost local news media outlets whose advertising revenues have been gutted by the COVID-19 crisis.
In a blog post, Facebook’s vice president of global news partnerships, Campbell Brown, said local journalists are playing a vital role in providing information about COVID-19. But their employers’ ad-driven business models are threatened by the economic fallout from quarantines imposed to curb the disease.
“If people needed more proof that local journalism is a vital public service, they’re getting it now,” she wrote. “And while almost all businesses are facing adverse financial effects from this crisis, we recognize we’re in a more privileged position than most, and we want to help.”
Facebook will donate $25 million in direct grants and will spend $75 million on marketing on local news sites to make up some of the lost revenue. The company announced it had already made grants to 50 newsrooms, including the Post and Courier of South Carolina, the Southeast Missourian, and El Paso Matters in Texas.
The company has made various efforts in recent years to form new partnerships that would help news organizations in decline. That includes a $300 million journalism grant program.
Like many large tech companies, Facebook has been under pressure to use its vast profits and platform to help out during the pandemic. The company had separately created a $100 million program to help small and mid-sized businesses survive the crisis.
The company had previously said it would help international health agencies leverage its Messenger service to distribute information. It also created a Messenger Coronavirus Community Hub to centralize information for users.