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Facebook announces R7 million investment to help local newsrooms during COVID-19

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During the country’s extended lockdown, which is set to go down to level four tomorrow, journalists and the media were classed as essential service providers with many risking the chance of COVID-19 infection in order to report crucial news stories.

At the same time, many newsrooms across the country are under strain, and some are even unable to pay their workers as advertising begins to dry up.

It’s why we were pleased to find out that Facebook is looking to assist local newsrooms with a sizeable investment of $390 000 (~R7 million given current exchange rate).

The investment will be facilitated by the Facebook Journalism Project (FJP), and will be designated towards funding and support of publications producing high-quality content and covering the pandemic across the country, the company explains.

Facebook will be working locally with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) in order to disburse the investment. The organisation is set to receive an estimated $140 000 (~R2.5 million) in grants for South African publishers, as well as a $250 000 (~R4.5 million) in video training for 10 000 journalists across the continent covering COVID-19 specifically through video reporting.

“The news industry is working under extraordinary conditions to keep people informed during the COVID-19 pandemic. As people turn to local journalists for critical information on how to keep their friends, families and communities safe, these journalists are affected especially in the current economic crisis,” says Jocelyne Muhutu Remy, strategic media partnerships manager of Facebook Africa.

“We’re working with our partners and the industry to understand their needs, which includes support to help them continue creative, innovative and impactful storytelling,” she adds.

Applications to receive funding open on 5th May, with the FJP and ICFJ websites being the first ports of contact.

[Image – Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.