Social media giant Facebook asked its users what kind of news people wanted to see on the site, and also asked the news industry how it could better work with them to make “a real impact.”
The answer, according to an announcement on Tuesday (Jan. 15), was clear: People wanted more local news, and local newsrooms wanted more support from the company.
Facebook said it was going to help in two key areas: “supporting local journalists and newsrooms with their newsgathering needs in the immediate future; and helping local news organizations build sustainable business models, through both our product and partnership work.”
Facebook thinks that its approach will also foster civic engagement, which is directly related to people consuming local news, the company said.
The company is willing to put its money where its mouth is: It has promised a $5 million endowment to the Pulitzer Center to launch “Bringing Stories Home,” which will cover grants for reporters to cover local topics. The fund plans to support 12 in-depth local reporting works.
Facebook will also invest $2 million in Report For America, to put 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms across the country in the next five years. The Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund will get a $1 million investment dedicated to news innovation and technology.
Other organizations, like the Local Media Association, The American Journalism Project and the Community News Project are getting money as well.
Facebook said it wants to help newsrooms with subscriptions and membership models, too, so it’s going to expand a program launched in 2018 called the Accelerator pilot program, with a commitment of more than $20 million.
“News is a key part of Facebook’s mission to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. We’re going to continue fighting fake news, misinformation and low-quality news on Facebook,” the company said. “But we also have an opportunity, and a responsibility, to help local news organizations grow and thrive. We know we can’t do it alone, but there is more we can and will do to help.”