Facebook to invest $15 million into regional Australian news media

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is investing $15 million into Australia’s regional news media in its latest round of grant funding.

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Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is investing $15 million into Australia’s regional and digital newsrooms in its latest grant funding.

Facebook told The Motley Fool Australia it expects the funding will help Australian publishers and independent journalists to produce news of public interest.

The grants will also be available to regional, rural and diverse news publications to help them develop new products and strategies to boost their reach and revenue.

$15 million for regional newsrooms

Facebook will partner with The Walkley Foundation to distribute the grants among Australian newsrooms.  

Facebook Australia’s head of news partnerships, Andrew Hunter, commented on the value of funding smaller Australian newsrooms, saying:

Facebook will invest these funds where they are needed most. It will go to the newsrooms that are doing the important work of telling stories that matter to local, regional and rural communities. It will also help diverse newsrooms and independent journalists producing news of public interest value across Australia. We want to help smaller publishers develop new products and strategies to expand reach and revenue, ultimately creating a sustainable path for the news industry.

The Walkley Foundation’s CEO Louisa Graham, also commented on the funding:

We are currently in discussions with Facebook to partner on a public interest journalism fund that will help smaller publishers and independent journalists produce news of public interest value across Australia.

Facebook said it hopes the $15 million investment will help to build its partnership with The Walkley Foundation over the next 3 years.

The social media platform stated it will continue to back best practice and ethical journalism through its support of the Walkley Foundation’s awards program this year.

The Walkley Foundation will be releasing more information on Facebook’s latest investment in Australian news media over the coming weeks.

Facebook’s funding of Aussie news

Facebook’s soon-to-be-announced grant project will be the largest the social media giant has entered into in Australia.  

The $15 million worth of grants follow multiple, smaller, investments from Facebook into Australian news publications over recent years.

Last year, Facebook invested $2 million into journalism in the Asia Pacific region as a part of its Journalism Project’s COVID-19 News Relief Fund Program. 17 Australian news publications were involved in the funding, each receiving grants worth between US$10,000 and US$60,000.

Michael Waite, founder of the Naracoorte News, which received a COVID-19 News Relief Fund Program grant, was quoted by Facebook’s Journalism Project. Waite said:  

The grant funds… provided an incredibly important independence strength to our newspaper. The funds enabled us to focus on local stories and serve the community with local council coverage, without the concern of needing council advertising.

At the request of the communities in the surrounding areas, this paper expanded to report on more local councils… Our paper and the community are seeing the benefits each week.

Facebook also invested $5 million into Australian news producers when it brought its Journalism Project News Accelerator to Australia in 2019.

Facebook’s still making deals with Australian newsrooms

Following the short-lived removal of Australian news from Facebook in February 2021, Facebook has been making deals with Australian news producers in an effort to work within the Australian government’s new media code.

Soon after the Australian government extended the negotiation period of its world-first News Media Bargaining Code, Facebook and Seven West Media Ltd (ASX: SWM) struck a deal to see Seven’s news appear on the social media platform.

Following in Seven’s footsteps, News Corporation (ASX: NWS) and Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Ltd (ASX: NEC) signed deals with Facebook in mid-March.

Since then, Australian Community Media, Solstice MediaPrivate Media, and Schwartz Media have each entered into agreements with Facebook to see their content published on the platform.

According to the AFR, Facebook and the Guardian Australia are still working towards an agreement. Discussions between the two bodies previously stalled due to financial issues.

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Motley Fool contributor Brooke Cooper has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of and recommends Facebook. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Facebook. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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