Facebook has announced a $100 million USD (about $141 million CAD) investment to support journalism amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first round of grants has been awarded to 50 local newsrooms in Canada and the U.S. Each news outlet has been awarded $5,000 USD (about $7,082 CAD).
Of the 50 awards, two have gone to Canadian newsrooms. One has been awarded to the Fort Frances Times in Ontario, and the other has been given to the Grizzly Gazette in Alberta.
Facebook says the funding is meant to help newsrooms cover unexpected costs associated with covering the crisis in their communities. It is also meant to help fulfill needs such as increasing frequency of publishing, combating misinformation and serving vulnerable and at-risk groups.
“At a time when journalism is needed more than ever, ad revenues are declining due to the economic impact of the virus,” Facebook notes.
This latest investment builds on Facebook’s other aid efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. The social giant has invested $100 million USD to aid 30,000 small businesses. It has also opened up Messenger to global health organizations to help them deliver accurate information.
In February, Facebook started to ban ads that claimed to cure or prevent COVID-19. However, it provided the World Health Organization with as much free ad space that it needed to aid its response to the virus.