After launching in the US and UK, Facebook News appears in Australia for “a small number of users” from today.
The new tab feature is also being accompanied by the launch of a $15 million fund for news journalism.
After heated discussions over the country’s media bargaining code led to Facebook temporarily shutting down news media on its platform, a number of deals have been struck with publishers including News Corp, Seven West, Nine, Guardian Australia, Country Press and ACM, although some smaller players have been turned away.
Facebook Australia head of news partnerships Andrew Hunter has announced a new $15 million news fund will invest in public-interest journalism, supporting regional and digital newsroom innovation and economic sustainability.
“This investment will help publishers and independent journalists producing news of public interest value across Australia,” he said. “It will also support smaller, regional, rural and digital newsrooms as they develop new products and strategies to expand reach and revenue.”
Two funds will address newsroom sustainability, and public interest journalism, each allocating $2.5 million annually over three years.
Newsroom sustainability grants of up to $250,000 will fund regional newsrooms and digital-first publications – with funding going towards innovation and revenue-generating projects, such as subscription paywalls and membership programme development – while public interest journalism grants of up to $120,000 will go to small, regional publishers and independent journalists to fund news projects of public interest value and to encourage media diversity. Expressions of interest are open for both funds.
Hunter says Facebook is “particularly focussed” on how the fund could provide support for under-served communities, including indigenous Australians, the LGBTQI+ community, youth and women’s issues, rural affairs and local civic journalism.