Facebook has announced a $2 million investment in grant funding, coaching and training as part of its journalism project to support Asia Pacific publishers covering the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19).
Facebook will redirect funds initially meant for the Splice Beta Fund, a grant that helps news and media entrepreneurs to ideate, launch, test, and iterate products and services. These funds will now go to 50 publishers, including Splice’s Lights On Fund. Publishers will also get help in mentoring and training journalists who are covering the pandemic.
According to Facebook, publishers are seeking help to navigate the harsh economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and build sustainable digital businesses.
Facebook will be working with the Walker Foundation to hand out funds to publishers in Australia and New Zealand that are based outside city centres.
These moves by Facebook mirror’s Google recent efforts to create a journalism emergency relief fund to provide support for local and small newsrooms on the frontline of covering the Covid-19.
Like Google, Facebook is also working with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), where it will offer a combination of grants, webinars and professional mentorship.
Facebook will also launch a virtual edition of its Reader Revenue Accelerator grant and training program to help publishers monetise their readership.
Both Facebook and Google have been accused of playing a significant role in forcing local media owners in Australia to shutter operations as they hold the giant share of advertising revenue.
As a result, the Australian government will force them to negotiate in good faith on how to pay news media for use of their content, to advise news media in advance of algorithm changes that would affect content rankings, to favour original source news content in search page results and to share data with media companies