Facebook announces $4.5 mn investment to help news publishers

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook has announced that it will invest an additional $4.5 million towards helping the news industry globally.

The social media giant, which reported more than $5 billion in profit in the second quarter this year, said it will give $3.5 million towards ‘Facebook Membership Accelerator’, a three-month pilot programme designed to help news organisations with membership models.

“We are going to continue to coach the group of metro news publishers from the pilot programme through the end of this year, and we will reconvene with them in 2019 to focus on subscriber retention,” Campbell Brown, Global Head of News at Facebook, said in a blog post on Thursday.

Facebook also announced that it would contribute $1 million to the 2018 ‘NewsMatch’ campaign, which matches individual donations to more than 100 non-profit newsrooms around the country.

“Last year, ‘NewsMatch’ helped make 2017 a record-breaking year for giving to non-profit journalism and we are excited to help NewsMatch expand in 2018,” said Mr. Brown.

The ‘Facebook Membership Accelerator’ will help non-profit news organisations and local, independent publishers with membership models build sustainable businesses, by providing supporters access to exclusive content and experiences through memberships, the blog post said.

An earlier ‘Local News Subscriptions Accelerator’ programme from Facebook was designed to test strategies focused on growing digital subscription acquisitions for local publishers. “We’re encouraged by the early successes of this programme, and proud of the tangible business results that publishers have accomplished so far,” Mr. Brown noted.

Facebook said it was also working with publishers across the U.S. and Europe to test support for subscriptions in ‘Instant Articles’.

“Moving forward, we’ll also be exploring ways to support emerging models like membership directly on Facebook,” said Mr. Brown.

On Thursday, Facebook announced its first partnership in India with Chennai-based Asian School of Journalism (ACJ).

Part of the Facebook Journalism Project, the partnership will establish a scholarship programme at ACJ and support five students in four career specialisations — print, new media, radio and television.

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