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November 23, 2019
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Facebook to invest $300m in local news business globally

CALIFORNIA: In the face of intense criticism over its role in the erosion of the news business worldwide, Facebook has announced to invest $300 million in local news globally over the three years.

The company said that the proposed investment is aimed at helping newsrooms in the US and abroad to create and sustain viable business models to survive.

Unlike earlier investments in the news business, this latest round is distinguished by how it is not tied to Facebook-related products, recipients of the investments say.

Earlier investments in the news business were designed to encourage publishers to rely on delivering its products over Facebook. When the company changed its strategy it hurt many news organisations.

“We’re going to continue fighting fake news, misinformation and low-quality news on Facebook,” Campbell Brown, Facebook’s Vice President of Global News Partnerships, said in a statement. “But we also have an opportunity, and a responsibility, to help local news organisations grow and thrive.”

The first round of investments in the US will help bolster resources for local reporting, help research how to use technology to improve news gathering and create new products, recruit “trainee community journalists” and place them in local newsrooms and also help fund a programme modelled after the Peace Corp, which will place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms over five years.

Fran Wills, CEO of the Local Media Consortium, an alliance of 80 news companies representing 2,200 outlets, said Facebook is helping the group create a branded content programme aimed at attracting new advertisers. “Facebook is making this investment to help support local media companies … open up new revenue streams that will support local journalism,” she said.