Facebook is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to supporting local news publishers, putting $3 million toward helping some of them boost their digital subscription totals.
Head of news partnerships Campbell Brown announced in a blog post that the Facebook Journalism Project launched a $3 million, three-month Local News Subscriptions Accelerator, which will work with several metropolitan news organizations on building their digital customer acquisitions on and off the social network.
Tim Griggs—former publisher and chief operating officer of The Texas Tribune and, prior to that, executive director, cross-platform monetization at The New York Times—is the program lead for the Local News Subscriptions Accelerator, and participants at launch are:
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- The Boston Globe
- Chicago Tribune
- The Dallas Morning News
- The Denver Post
- The Inquirer (Philadelphia)
- Miami Herald
- Newsday (Long Island, N.Y.)
- Omaha World-Herald
- San Francisco Chronicle
- The Seattle Times
- Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
- The Tennessean
Participants in the program will meet in-person once per month, and they will also be coached by digital subscription experts and take part in weekly training sessions covering digital subscription marketing, including how Facebook can be used.
Brown added, “Working with program coaches, publishers will then design individual projects that tackle their unique business needs. Grant funding will empower each publisher to implement solutions that help elevate their subscription business.”
The Facebook Journalism Project is also working with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism to distribute learnings and case studies from the initiative’s launch participants through the Local Media Consortium, the Local Media Association and the News Media Alliance.
The social network has sharpened its focus on local news publishers over the past year or so:
- In January 2017, Facebook launched the Facebook Journalism Project with three objectives: collaborative development of news products for the social network, training and tools for journalists and training and tools for users.
- Last April, Facebook teamed up with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation on a pilot project to bring training and support directly into the newsrooms of local and nonprofit news organizations, establishing local networks with the Knight Foundation, the Lenfest Institute, the Detroit Journalism Cooperative and Montclair State University’s Center for Cooperative Media.
- In October 2017, members of the Local Media Consortium gained access to real-time social media monitoring and tracking tools from CrowdTangle, the media measurement platform acquired by Facebook in November 2016.
- Later that month, CrowdTangle launched CrowdTangle for Local News, a dedicated version of its platform aimed specifically at local newsrooms.
- Facebook began testing Today In—a feature aimed at providing a destination for local news—in six cities in January.
- And later that month, the social network announced that posts from local publishers would be prioritized in News Feed.