Facebook has announced that it will invest $5 million in a new publishing platform that will pay local journalists. According to Reuters, independent journalists will apply for the program as early as today. The corporation is prioritizing reporters who plan to serve “Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, or other audiences of color” in places where there is no existing news outlet, also known as “news deserts.”
Last month, Facebook unveiled a first local news platform. The platform provides a self-publishing app that allows reporters to create newsletters and charge for subscriptions, as well as connectivity with established Facebook services like pages and communities. According to Reuters, Facebook will sign multiyear contracts with a small group of journalists who will be able to make more money from subscriptions.
Facebook described the platform as a choice for “independent local journalists who are often the sole voice covering a given community” earlier this month. Other self-publishing platforms, especially newsletter provider Substack, are also competitors. Substack announced in mid-April that it would pick up to 30 local news reporters for one-year advances of up to $100,000 as part of a $1 million program dubbed Substack Local. (Like the more well-known Substack Pro journalists, these reporters would withhold the majority of their subscription sales for the year.) Substack Local applications are due today.
Last year, Facebook announced a $5 million investment in local news programs. It also pays major news organizations to publish content on its social media platform. However, in this endeavor, it is attempting to provide something akin to an in-house news platform, rather than collaborating with large networks that have a tumultuous history with the firm.