The US-based technology conglomerate Facebook will offer $5 million to pay local journalists in a multi-year deal as part of its new publishing platform intending to support independent writers to attract the audience and earn money through the social media network.
The current step is as part of Facebook’s answer to the trend of email newsletters, led by platforms like Substack, as it targets reporters who are often the lone voice covering a given community, the company said.
Facebook’s publishing platform will be integrated with the pages in the social media platform and include a free self-publishing tool for journalists to send out newsletters or create their own website.
The increasing popularity of paid newsletters has severely affected the media world, as high-profile journalists from outlets including the New York Times and Vox Media have stepped out to roll out their own business on platforms such as Substack and Patreon, lured by cash advances and uncapped earning potential from subscriptions.
Earlier this month, the online platform Substack announced its $1 million worth program “Substack Local” which aims to pay up to 30 local reporters to build their own subscription-supported business.
Meanwhile, Facebook has stated that it would partner with the International Center for Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists to assess applications, and would give the journalists selected access to experts and services to help them build their business.
Independent journalists in the US can apply to the program and priority will be given to reporters who plan to cover “Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian or other audiences of color,” in locations that lack an existing news source, Facebook said.
Journalists will be able to earn additional money from publishing stories using Facebook’s tools, starting with subscriptions, and each writer can set their own price.
The social network has long had a tiring relationship with the news industry, which worsened early this year after a showdown with the Australian government overpaying news outlets for content. Following the conflict, Facebook pledged to invest $1 billion in the news industry over the next three years.
Related: Facebook seeks user feedback to improve its News Feed