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Facebook commits R7m to SA newsrooms during COVID-19

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The Facebook Journalism Project (FJP) today announced a $390 000 (R7 million) grant to help South African news organisations navigate the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.

“We will provide funding and training to support their coronavirus work and high-quality journalism across the country,” the social media company says in a statement.

It notes that as part of these funds, Facebook will team up with the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ), a non-profit organisation with a history of working with publishers across the world.

ICFJ will provide $140 000 (R2.5 million) in these grants to South African publishers, as well as a $250 000 (R4.5 million) video training programme for 10 000 journalists across the continent covering COVID-19 through video reporting.

“The news industry is working under extraordinary conditions to keep people informed during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Jocelyne Muhutu Remy, strategic media partnerships manager of Facebook Africa.

“As people turn to local journalists for critical information on how to keep their friends, families and communities safe, these journalists are affected especially in the current economic crisis. We’re working with our partners and the industry to understand their needs, which includes support to help them continue creative, innovative and impactful storytelling.”

“Sub-Saharan Africa’s newsrooms will need to play a key role in informing the public in a highly vulnerable region,” says Johanna Carrillo, ICFJ’s vice-president of programmes. “With this new grant from the Facebook Journalism Project, we can build on our work together helping newsrooms and publishers in the region at this difficult time.”

The company says this investment builds upon Facebook’s ongoing COVID-19-focused work in SA and across the continent.

“Focused on helping provide accurate information to various communities, our work has included launching the Coronavirus Information Centre on Facebook, as well as COVID-19 Connect, a WhatsApp-based health helpline developed in partnership with the minister of health and local Facebook partner, Praekelt,” it notes.

An additional $100 000 (R1.8 million) from Facebook will be invested in Kenya this year, for a Video Storytelling Fellowship.

According to the social media company, FJP’s commitment to newsrooms in SA follows Facebook’s $100 million investment to support the news industry during the coronavirus crisis, as well as $2 million in grants for US and Canadian local news, $1 million in grants for fact-checking organisations, and a $1 million donation to the International Fact-Checking Network.

Previously, FJP committed $300 million to serving journalists around the world through diverse and inclusive news programmes and partnerships.

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