Facebook has announced the launch of both a AU$15 million news fund and the expansion of Facebook News to Australia.
The Facebook Australian Nefacebookws Fund will invest in public-interest journalism, and support regional and digital newsroom innovation and economic sustainability. The support will be provided in the form of two funds, the Newsroom Sustainability Fund and the Public Interest Journalism Fund.
The Newsroom Sustainability Fund will allocate AU$2.5 million per year over three years, in grants of up to AU$250,000 to fund regional newsrooms and digital-first publications. Funding will go towards innovation and revenue-generating projects, such as subscription paywalls and membership program development.
The Public Interest Journalism Fund will also allocate AU$2.5 million per year over three years, providing grants of up to AU$120,000, to small, regional publishers and independent journalists to fund news projects of public interest value and to encourage media diversity. Facebook is particularly focused on how the fund could provide support for underserved communities – such as Indigenous Australians, LGBTQI+ community, youth and women’s issues, rural affairs and local civic journalism.
Expressions of Interest are open for both funds, and newsrooms, journalists and publishers to register their interest and be notified when applications are open.
For the past three years, Facebook has partnered with the news industry to support sustainable business solutions. This includes its AU$1.5 million investment in the 2019-20 reader revenue accelerator supporting 11 ANZ news publishers; the AU$1 million COVID-19 relief fund that went to 17 rural, regional and community newsrooms across Australia and the newly awarded Accelerator Alumni Grants.
Facebook have also announced Facebook News will begin to roll out to a small number of Australians. This phased launch will ensure the product works in a way that provides benefit to Australian audiences and publishers. Facebook is planning to expand Facebook News to more Australians through the coming months.
In addition to investments in Facebook News and the Australian News Fund, Facebook will continue to support the news industry through products and programs to promote premium journalism and drive referral traffic and revenue for publishers.