Social media is such a crowded marketplace that even trendsetters like Facebook have to continue innovating to not only stay relevant but also to compete, financially, for web user interaction. With that, Facebook has announced a plan to invest $300 million in news partnerships to bring local news to Facebook users.
This is a strategy aimed at repairing ties with the press while also clarifying a lot of misinformation on its site. In addition, Facebook has received extensive criticism for providing a platform for hate speech. It has also been criticized for allowing political meddling.
Accordingly, Facebook Vice President of Global News Partnerships, Campbell Brown, notes, “We’re going to continue fighting fake news, misinformation, and low quality news on Facebook. But we also have an opportunity, and a responsibility, to help local news organizations grow and thrive.”
The move is not only crucial for Facebook’s momentum but also, and perhaps more importantly, but crucial for traditional news outlets. After all, a recent study intimates that approximately 1,800 local news publications have either closed or merged with others since 2004. To put into perspective this is equivalent to roughly 1 in 5 local newspapers.
At the same time, Facebook (and others, like Google) acts like a kind of digital advertising doorman, controlling a vast majority of what marketing we get to see as users. And that, of course, has vastly contributed to the decline in traditional local news production. As a matter of fact, a recent Pew study indicates that social media has actually replaced newspapers as the most popular news source among adults in the United States.
Thus, in addition to the $20 million Facebook has already dished out to expand its local news partnership, the social media company will invest another $16 million among various non-profits and support organizations. This could include names like the Community News Project, the Knight-Lenfest News Transformation Fund, Pulitzer Center, the Local Media Consortium, Report for America, the Local Media Association, and the American Journalism Project.
In response to the announcement, Pulitzer Center founder and executive director Jon Sawyer comments, “We are grateful for Facebook’s commitment to helping us meet the challenges of today’s journalism, especially in smaller cities where the survival of news outlets depends on new models of reporting and community engagement.”