Facebook Journalism Project Gives Grants To 50 Local Newsrooms, Supports COVID-19 Coverage

Local news continues to struggle amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Some newspapers are suspending print publication, while others cut staff and operations.

The Facebook Journalism Project (FJP), with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Local Media Association (LMA), is awarding $5,000 grants to 50 local newsrooms across the U.S. and Canada. The round of grants includes journalists in remote Canadian communities with help from News Media Canada and The Independent News Challenge.

The funds are intended to defray the extra costs that come with covering the virus, including increased frequency of publishing, combating misinformation and providing coverage for vulnerable and at-risk groups.

The new round of grants follows last week’s announcement that the FJP is partnering with Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) to give $1 million in funding to support fact-checkers working to stop the spread of misinformation.

The funding comes as one study found 57% of U.S. adults who receive most of their news from social media report they’ve seen misinformation about COVID-19, compared to 37% who prefer and consume mostly print news.

The $1 million grant supports plans to translate fact checks into different languages, create multimedia production about COVID-19, work with health experts to create evidence-based coverage, and develop audience initiatives using formats that create better ways to reach audiences.

The grant also supports fact-checkers working for public authorities that can communicate reliable information about COVID-19.

“The fact-checking community has been working very hard, day and night, since January to point out falsehoods about the new coronavirus. Social-media platforms have a responsibility to combat this type of misinformation, it is great to see that Facebook is willing to support the CoronaVirusFacts Alliance,” stated Cristina Tardáguila, the IFCN's associate director and the coordinator of the COVID-19 collaborative project.

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