Facebook has announced plans to invest $300 million in local news organizations worldwide over the coming three years. The social media giant often a recipient of egregious accusations of being the doom of local news business worldwide seems to address these by its investment plans.
The plan includes investment of both money and time by the organization to help local news companies find sustainable and viable business models to compete in the rapidly shifting news business relying heavily on online advertising revenues. The investment is different from other such investments by the company as it does not involve tie up with any Facebook related products as reported by the recipients of the investment.
The earlier rounds of investment were meant to incentivize publishers to rely on Facebook’s products and services for news delivery which ended up hurting them in the end as Facebook shifted its strategy repeatedly.
The latest round of investment is supposedly aimed at fighting fake news and misinformation which has rampantly spread across the platform by exploiting its capabilities. Campbell Brown, vice president of Global News in the company, also believes that Facebook also has a responsibility and opportunity in helping local news to grow. Critics of Facebook have accused it of being a silent witness to spread of misinformation, fake news and political meddling.
The investment in the US will help augment resources needed for local reporting, evolve new technology to create new services and product and improve the gathering of news. It has also devised a program which is modeled after Peace Corp which will hire ‘trainee community journalist’ and will place them in newsrooms. The program has planned over the next five years to place 1000 trainee journalists in local newsrooms.
The notable recipients of the investments include non-profits such as Report for America, Pulitzer Center as well as The American Journalism Project, Local Media consortium and Local Media Association, Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund and Community News Project. An alliance of over 80 news organizations Local Media Consortium’s CEO Fran Wils said that Facebook is helping the organization to create a content program for attracting advertising opportunities and expresses optimism that it will create new revenue streams which will aid local journalism to grow.
Facebook last year also launched an “Accelerator’’ program to help newsrooms such as Denver Post and San Francisco Chronicle to attract membership and subscribers. It also invested $6 million in local publishing in Britain. The company has taken several initiatives recently to improve its public image after the platform lost credibility because of major controversies last year with reports saying that Facebook was used extensively by the Russians for influencing 2016 presidential elections.
Facebook has recently announced that political advertising tools and rules will be extended to countries like Ukraine, Nigeria, India and European Union to curb election interference.