Facebook has announced that it is investing an additional $4.5 million in programs supporting news publishers; among them, an expansion of its Facebook Journalism Project.
Facebook’s latest announcement of measures to support news publishers includes an extension of the $3.5 million Facebook Journalism Project’s Local News Subscriptions Accelerator pilot program that launched earlier this year, the launch of a new Membership Accelerator, and a $1 million donation to NewsMatch.
Expanding Local Subscriptions Accelerator
Designed to test strategies focused on growing digital subscriptions for local publishers, the Local News Subscriptions Accelerator is an intensive 12-week pilot program that ran among 14 metro newspapers. Funded by Facebook’s Journalism Project, it “included collaborative in-person sessions where publishers worked through challenges together, with hands-on workshops led by news industry veteran Tim Griggs and a grant-making program organized by Facebook and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism.”
Now, due to overwhelming success, and great feedback from the industry, Facebook will continue to coach the group of metro news publishers from the pilot program until the end of 2018 and will work with them in 2019 to focus on another important part of any subscriptions program: subscriber retention.
Piloting New Memberships Accelerator
Facebook will be piloting a new $3.5 million Membership Accelerator that is designed to help “non-profit news organizations and local, independent publishers with membership models build sustainable businesses by providing supporters access to exclusive content and experiences through memberships.”
The program will offer a bootcamp-style curriculum that will focus on one thing in particular: acquisition marketing designed to convert and retain paying supporters. Just like in the Journalism Project’s Subscriptions pilot, publishers will be collaborating in-person with Facebook once a month, regularly working 1-on-1 with coaches, and participating in weekly trainings. They will also receive grant funding to help them tackle projects that are tailored to their specific business needs.
Tim Griggs will again head the curriculum, and the Lenfest Institute for Journalism will continue in its previous role.
$1 Million NewsMatch Donation
The Facebook Journalism Project will be making a $1 million donation to NewsMatch, “a national matching campaign that doubles donations to non-profit newsrooms and promotes giving to journalism among US donors.” The campaign is funded by various local and national sources – i.e. the Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and matches donations to non-profit newsrooms across the United States.
Facebook is now significantly increasing its financial support of the campaign.
Facebook has also been working with publishers in the US and Europe to test support for subscriptions in Instant Articles – with “promising results.” It says that people who saw Instant Articles from publishers in its test group in May, were 17% more likely on average to subscribe to those publications from Facebook than people who saw web links to subscribe.
Facebook also says that it will be “exploring ways to support emerging models like membership directly on Facebook.”