Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is giving local news a lifeline amid the COVID-19 pandemic announcing a $100 million investment.
In a blog post, Campbell Brown, vice president of global news partnerships at the social media giant, announced the company is investing $25 million in grants for local news organizations via the Facebook Journalism Project. It's also offering $75 million in marketing spend so money is moved to news organizations across the globe.
A Facebook spokesperson told CNN Business that the social media giant will buy ads on television and online to help local newsrooms that have experienced a steep decline in ad sales amid the pandemic. Local journalism was already under pressure before COVID-19 hit but now with millions of people across the world sheltering in place and with travel coming to a halt, news organizations are seeing a big decline in ad sales. At the same time, readership and viewership are up as people seek out information about the virus. It's not translating into more money; thus the new aid. Even Facebook warned that its ad business is being negatively impacted by the virus as usage surges.
"The news industry is working under extraordinary conditions to keep people informed during the COVID-19 pandemic," wrote Brown in the blog post. "At a time when journalism is needed more than ever, ad revenues are declining due to the economic impact of the virus. Local journalists are being hit especially hard, even as people turn to them for critical information to keep their friends, families, and communities safe."
The first round of grants went to 50 local newsrooms located in the U.S. and Canada. The $100 million investment is in addition to the $300 million Facebook has already pledged to help journalists and newsrooms.