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Our coverage on COVID‑19

Facebook donates RM430 million to help journalists cover COVID-19 news

As the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold, the news/media industry has continued to roll on, with Facebook saying that journalists are working through “extraordinary” circumstances to keep the public informed on the latest situations.

As such, the social media giant has offered a US$100 million (~RM430 million) investment via its Facebook Journalism Project arm—US$25 million will go directly to “local news”, while the remainding US$75 will be spent on marketing for news companies around the globe.

Direct funding for journalists

The first round of grants under the COVID-19 Community Network grant program were earlier announced for local newsrooms in the U.S., with 50 organisations receiving US5,2000 in grants to help with “unexpected costs”.

Now, Facebook has announced another US$100 million to support the media industry, with ad revenues reportedly declining due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Multiple sectors are feeling the economic impact of the pandemic, and marketing budgets are expected to be slashed.

In fact, Reuters reports that the advertising industry in the U.S. could see losses in the billions of dollars, with Facebook saying that the importance of the media is now more apparent than ever:

If people needed more proof that local journalism is a vital public service, they’re getting it now. And while almost all businesses are facing adverse financial effects from this crisis, we recognize we’re in a more privileged position than most, and we want to help.

The grants will be directed to publishers who are located in the regions that are hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Facebook shared that some of the first newsrooms to receive funding support removed paywalls for COVID-19 coverage, with the cash grant also used for remote working tech and freelance hires.

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This comes after Facebook already announced a US$300 million investment into diverse and inclusive programs and partnerships in journalism, via Facebook Journalism Project.

“This money will not only help keep journalists reporting right now amidst the crisis, the funding will also fuel opportunities for local media to accelerate business transformation toward a more sustainable digital footing.”

While Facebook has seen a spike in usage of its services during a pandemic that has led to varying lockdown orders in multiple countries, the company is also saying a drop in ad spending. “Business is being adversely affected”, reveals the company.