The Philadelphia Inquirer is one of five Pennsylvania newsrooms to receive grants from Facebook for efforts to boost subscriptions and memberships.
The social media giant announced Thursday that The Inquirer will receive $150,000 as part of a “$100 million global investment in news.”
“As a participant in Facebook’s Local News Accelerator, we will use the money to support and speed up our transition to a digital-first news organization," said Inquirer publisher and CEO Elizabeth H. Hughes, “including helping to grow our digital subscriptions.”
Facebook announced similar grants to help other regional newsrooms bolster their audiences. The Philadelphia Tribune newspaper received $75,000; public radio and television broadcaster WHYY got $50,000, and radio station WURD AM-FM collected $40,000.
The grants will be administered by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism — which is the nonprofit owner of The Inquirer — and the International Center for Journalists.
“We’re grateful to the Facebook Journalism Project and the Lenfest institute for supporting Billy Penn and WHYY,” said Sandra Clark, the broadcaster’s vice president for news. “Their support of local media in Philadelphia shows how funders are rising to meet urgent needs of the public in this exceptionally trying time.”
Facebook also will issue COVID-19 Local News Relief Grants to several Pennsylvania news organizations. The money is intended to offset some revenue shortfalls to help struggling publishers survive during the crisis. The pandemic has eliminated nearly all advertising income.
Local newsrooms awarded Facebook COVID-19 grants also include Al Día, the Center City bilingual newspaper focused on the Latinx community, $99,000; Indonesian Lantern Media, the South Philadelphia-based “voice of the Indonesian community in America,” $25,000; and the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, a nonprofit focused on the schools, $25,000.
Last year, Facebook and Google each announced $300 million programs to aid journalism.
“The amount of money is meaningful, but it doesn’t change the trajectory of the industry. So it needs to be seen in that light,” said Ken Doctor, a former newspaper industry executive who became an industry analyst. “And both Facebook and Google deserve credit for that."
Both organizations, which are now among the richest corporations in the United States, have outgunned traditional news-gathering organizations when it comes to share of advertising. They have captured the lion’s share of the world’s advertising revenue while building a highly engaged online community around third-party news content displayed on their platforms.
There is increasing pressure in Congress to get Google and Facebook to pay the equivalent of license fees to publishers – similar to what radio stations once paid for music – for the use of their content, Doctor said.