Facebook revealed Monday it intends to commit $100 million to help rebuild media and new organizations that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. These emergency funds are intended to help bolster local news outlets, but some news media reps say they would appreciate help that’s a little more consistent.
The company revealed it’ll be distributing the funds via its Journalism Project, with the intention being smaller news outlets can use the money as emergency funding to help cover the COVID-19 news:
At a time when journalism is needed more than ever, ad revenues are declining due to the economic impact of the virus… Today we’re announcing an additional $100 million investment to support the news industry—$25 million in emergency grant funding for local news through the Facebook Journalism Project, and $75 million in additional marketing spend to move money over to news organizations around the world.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg also added that it’ll be in addition to the $300 million Facebook pledged to support news last year.
Goodness knows the coronavirus economy has crept into every aspect of life, so it’s no surprise that lots of media organizations are feeling the pinch. Reuters reports the pandemic could cost the advertising industry billions, and the publishing industry by and large relies on advertising for revenue. Of the examples Facebook gave of how local news sites have used the emergency grants, most of them revolve around the coronavirus, such as covering remote work costs and temporarily removing paywalls. It’s also worth noting that Facebook itself is taking a revenue hit thanks to the coronavirus.
That said, news media aren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of Facebook’s charity in the form of one-time money dumps being the only thing keeping them afloat. David Chavern, CEO of the News Media Alliance, told NPR: “I’m not looking for charity. I’m looking for a business model.” And there is something to that: Facebook is one of the primary places news is disseminated these days, and yet these grants are the only way news organizations are seeing that Facebook money.
We don’t yet know how each portion of the $100 million will be distributed.