Facebook sets up $3m coronavirus support fund for European news groups

10 Apr 2020

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Facebook has launched a support fund for European news organisations struggling to make ends meet during the coronavirus pandemic.

Facebook has announced a partnership with the European Journalism Centre (EJC) that will provide funding to news organisations during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes a $3m fund from the Facebook Journalism Project (FJP) that will provide emergency funding to small and mid-sized news organisations and journalists across Europe affected by Covid-19.

Grants can be used for initiatives such as launching a dedicated Covid-19 newsletter, lifting a paywall or hiring more freelance journalists. It could also be put towards creating community groups, local-focused data reporting or online events, as well as funding outlets struggling to make ends meet.

Future Human

This includes emergency grants of either €10,000 or €25,000 to provide immediate financial support to businesses, which can be used to replace lost sales revenue, cover organisational costs and hire freelances to replace staff who are ill.

The largest single grant is the innovation fund, worth €50,000. This funding will be provided for applicants looking to facilitate collaboration between local publishers, create in-depth data journalism projects and develop apps for local communities.

‘A battle for survival’

There is also a €5,000 engagement fund for local news organisations to develop short-term or one-off coronavirus-related initiatives. This may include community data reporting or the launching of a dedicated newsletter. The FJP said freelancers or groups of freelancers can apply to this fund.

Applications for funding will be accepted from 16 April.

Speaking of the initiative, Adam Thomas, director of the EJC, said: “All over Europe, local news organisations are facing a battle for survival. Deeply affected by the commercial impact of Covid-19, journalists are providing essential coverage with minimal resources.

“Without urgent support, local and community media will be unable to fight misinformation and inform citizens. The European journalism Covid-19 support fund is designed to protect journalists who are working closely with their communities during this crisis.”

Facebook recently announced that it is providing user data to researchers to provide better information on whether preventative coronavirus measures may be working and how the virus may spread. Addressing the issue of privacy, the social network said that specific users won’t be flagged for breaking any movement rules put in place by governments.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic