Facebook invests big in support of SA’s newsrooms

Facebook have been in the news quite heavily lately. They’re back in the headlines today with massive news closer to home, specifically from the Facebook Journalism Project (FJP), who have announced that they’re investing a whopping $390,000 (Just over R7 million) to help South African news organizations navigate the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. They will provide funding and training to support coronavirus dedicated work and high-quality journalism across the country. How cool is that?

As part of these funds, Facebook will work with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), a non-profit organisation with a history of working with publishers across the world. ICFJ will provide $140,000 in these grants to South African publishers, as well as a $250,000 video training program for 10,000 journalists across the continent covering COVID-19 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,” said 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.

“Sub-Saharan Africa’s newsrooms will need to play a key role in informing the public in a highly vulnerable region,” said Johanna Carrillo, ICFJ’s vice president of programs. “With this new grant from the Facebook Journalism Project, we can build on our work together helping newsrooms and publishers in the region at this difficult time.”

This investment builds upon the company’s ongoing COVID-19 focused work in our country and across the continent. Taking a step further and focused on helping provide accurate information to various communities, Facebook’s work has included launching the Coronavirus Information Center on their platform, as well as COVID-19 Connect, a WhatsApp-based health helpline developed in partnership with the Minister of Health and local Facebook partner, Praekelt.

It doesn’t end there as an additional $100,000 from Facebook will be invested in Kenya this year, for a Video Storytelling Fellowship. FJP’s commitment to newsrooms in South Africa follows Facebook’s $100 million investment to support the news industry during the coronavirus crisis, as well as $2 million in grants for US and Canadian local news, $1 million in grants for fact-checking organizations, and a $1 million donation to the International Fact-Checking Network. Previously, FJP committed $300 million to serving journalists around the world through diverse and inclusive news programs and partnerships.

Applications open 5 May 2020, visit the FJP website / the ICFJ website to find out how to apply.

What a great cause and one announcement that will no doubt serve as very welcome news to all local journalists and newsrooms alike. Well played Facebook.

Image credit – @freegraphictoday