Facebook Is Committing Another $4.5 Million to Initiatives for News Publishers

The social network introduced the Facebook Membership Accelerator pilot program

Facebook's Local News Subscriptions Accelerator initiative Facebook
Headshot of David Cohen

Facebook announced Thursday that it is pumping another $4.5 million into Facebook Journalism Project initiatives for news publishers.

Global head of news Campbell Brown said in a blog post that Facebook will put $3.5 million toward the Facebook Membership Accelerator pilot program and contribute another $1 million into the 2018 NewsMatch campaign.

The company invested $3.5 million into the Local News Subscriptions Accelerator initiative, revealed in February, which put 14 metropolitan newspapers through a 12-week “intensive” pilot program of testing digital subscription strategies, both on and off Facebook.

Hands-on workshops were led by news industry veteran Tim Griggs, and Facebook and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism organized a grant-making program.

Staffers at the participating newspapers continued one-on-one work with coaches with an eye toward meeting specific goals that were set during the program, and grant money is helping fund those efforts.

The new Facebook Membership Accelerator program is geared toward nonprofit news organizations and local, independent publishers that rely on membership models offering exclusive content and experiences to sustain their businesses.

Brown said its “bootcamp-style curriculum” will also be led by Griggs, with the social network and the Lenfest Institute handling the grant program, and it will focus on “acquisition marketing designed to convert and retain paying supporters.”

She added, “As in the Subscriptions pilot, publishers will collaborate in-person once per month, work one-on-one with coaches on a regular basis, participate in weekly trainings and receive grant funding to tackle projects tailored to their specific business needs—all while documenting their work to be shared with publishers around the world.”

Facebook will work with the Institute for Nonprofit News, Local Independent Online News Publishers, the News Revenue Hub and “other stakeholders” to identify potential participants that can benefit the most from the program.

The company will also donate $1 million to NewsMatch, a national matching campaign that doubles donations to nonprofit newsrooms and promotes giving to journalism among potential U.S. donors.

Brown said the 2017 NewsMatch campaign raised more than $4.8 million in three months, becoming the largest grassroots fundraising campaign for nonprofit news, and the inaugural effort in 2016 tallied $1.2 million.

She wrote, “The campaign pools funds from local and national funders, including Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to match donations to nonprofit newsrooms across the country … In addition to expanding funding for nonprofit journalism, NewsMatch partners with the Institute for Nonprofit News and the News Revenue Hub to offer hundreds of hours of fundraising training. In the past, Facebook has played a small part as a donor, and this year we’re significantly increasing that support.”

Finally, Brown revealed that Facebook is piloting a six-week program in Argentina starting Thursday to help news publishers in that country “develop and execute holistic digital video strategies to connect with their audiences in new ways.”

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.