Seven local news outlets in Massachusetts— including the Reporter— have been selected as recipients of a $5,000 grant from the Facebook Journalism Project (FJP). The new funding initiative is meant to aid newsrooms covering the COVID-19 crisis on a local level. In addition to the Reporter, the Bay State Banner, Daily Hampshire Gazette, Hull Times Media Group, Inc. MasTV/El Planeta LLC, and the New Bedford Guide were among the 400 North American publications tapped by Facebook and partners the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Local Media Association (LMA) to receive aid in navigating the economic impact of the outbreak. After announcing the first round of 50 grant recipients in March, Facebook quickly doubled the grant pool money to $2 million for an additional 350 newsrooms after more than 200 publishers applied in the first 48 hours after the application launched.
Josh Mabry, Local News Partnerships Lead at Facebook, said the program came about as a way to address an “immediate need” in local journalism that was highlighted by the rise of the pandemic.
“This is really important because Facebook is all about community, staying connected, and being informed, and I think right now a lot of people are realizing how important their local news sources are,” said Mabry. “It’s one thing to be following the COVID outbreak on national news, but it’s a different story when it hits home and you want to know how it’s affecting your friends and family, people and places in your backyard. Having local news organizations who are telling those stories is critically important.”
Each $5,000 grant is meant to “help fulfill immediate needs such as increasing frequency of publishing, tools to work remotely, combating misinformation and serving vulnerable and at-risk groups.” The $2 million sum is part of $100 million total in funding that the social media corporation is investing globally to support local news organizations.