Facebook will give $25 million in emergency grants for local news to support journalism during the coronavirus pandemic, and will spend $75 million more on ads with news outlets that have seen a significant decline in their revenue, it announced Monday.
Though readership and viewership is up during the pandemic, many news organizations have seen revenue drop from lost advertisements, events and other money making avenues. Across the world, local news organizations in particular have been hard hit, with some shutting down their print editions, furloughing and even laying off staff.
Facebook (FB) says the $100 million investment is in addition to $1 million in grants for local news outlets and $2 million in grants to fact checking efforts, both of which it had previously announced.
“Many news organizations are intensely struggling because of the economic fallout from the outbreak,” Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of global news partnerships, said in an interview with CNN Business.
“Even though news consumption generally is on the rise, and in some cases you’re seeing subscriptions go up, that increase isn’t enough to make up for the loss that many news organizations are experiencing in ad dollars. We’re in this position to help, so we are.”
The grant money will be dispersed to hundreds of news outlets through an application process.
The money announced on Monday is separate from Facebook’s year-ago commitment to invest $300 million in local journalism in three years.
Brown said they were “overwhelmed” by the number of applications after Facebook initially offered $1 million in grants to news outlets earlier this month.
Many of the applicants were “just trying to keep the lights on,” Brown said. “This has just been hitting local news really hard.”
The increased marketing outlay will be “in markets that are really hardest hit” by the virus around the world, Brown said, as the ad industry slows.
Some of the marketing will take the form of Facebook buying advertising for themselves on television and online. A Facebook spokesperson later told CNN Business they’re still working out the details of the marketing effort, but will try to get the money out as quickly as possible though some may hit later this year.
The point, from Brown’s perspective, is that the ads will help to replenish the coffers of cash-strapped news outlets who have lost ad revenue as other businesses slow down or completely shutter.
“This is not a reallocation; this is new money, for marketing specifically to news organizations that are struggling financially during the outbreak,” she said.