Facebook announced on Monday that it was going to spend $100 million to help local news outlets during the coronavirus crisis. “It’s a moment where getting accurate news about the coronavirus is vital for all us,” says Campbell Brown, the former television news anchor and Facebook’s vice president of global news partnerships. This urgent need for news comes as ad revenues for news sites are drying up.
“Local journalists are being hit especially hard, even as people turn to them for critical information to keep their friends, families and communities safe,” Campbell wrote in a blog post announcing the grant. As if to put an exclamation point on that notion, also on Monday, the Gannett newspaper chain told employees at 100 newspapers that they would have to take unpaid leave.
Facebook’s gift to local news came after it offered a much smaller $1 million investment two weeks ago. That money was meant to support coronavirus coverage in local publications, but according to Brown, so many requests for that money came in that the company realized that a much bigger sum was needed.
Of the $100 million Facebook is now promising to give out, $25 million will be disbursed as cash grants to local publishers in South Carolina, Missouri and Texas and other places to support their coverage of the pandemic, or to keep them afloat during the crisis.
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