This has been one of the most challenging times in America’s history, especially for small businesses like the Forward Times, which has been focused on ensuring the trend of NEVER missing a week of print since inception continues. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the Forward Times, as well as the advertisers who trust the historic 60-year old publication to connect their brand to its loyal and dedicated readers.
In the midst of this pandemic, the Forward Times received some exciting news that will significantly assist with their ability to continue providing critical content, especially to the African American community, as the COVID-19 virus continues to ravish our country.
Facebook recently announced that the Forward Times was being awarded $100,000 as part of their Facebook Journalism Project’s relief fund for local news.
After receiving more than 2,000 applications for the COVID-19 Local News Relief Grant Program from newsrooms across the country, as well as all U.S. territories and Washington, D.C., Facebook is providing grants ranging from $25,000-$100,000 to help publishers continue serving their respective communities as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to be an issue.
The Forward Times, along with more than 200 news organizations, are receiving nearly $16 million in grants through the Facebook Journalism Project. These grants stem from $25 million in local news relief funding announced in March as part of Facebook’s $100 million global investment in news. A total of $10.3 million was awarded to 144 U.S. local newsrooms as part of the COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program, which is supporting many publishers who have been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis.
“We’re proud to support this diverse group of publishers – many of which are family- or independently owned,” said Campbell Brown, VP of global news partnerships at Facebook. “Not only are these journalists working tirelessly to serve people right now – they’re focused on transformation, building innovative local news businesses that can continue to serve communities beyond the current pandemic.”
The COVID-19 Local News Relief Grant Program was designed to provide support for U.S. local news organizations serving a critical role for communities impacted by COVID-19.
Funding is intended to a) respond to immediate community needs and/or b) offset some revenue shortfalls to help publishers maintain long-term sustainability during this crisis.
The pool of grant recipients is notable in several ways:
- Nearly 80 percent are family- or independently-owned small businesses
- More than half are published by or for communities of color.
- Nearly 40 percent are digitally native publishers.
- Just over a third are non-profits.
All grant recipients were selected through a process led by the Local Media Association (LMA) and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism and with significant contributions from the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION), Local Media Consortium (LMC), and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).
Going further, Josh Mabry, who serves as the Local News Partnerships Lead for Facebook, states that the Forward Times is uniquely positioned to fulfill the mission of the COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program for the community it serves.
“One of the things that stood out in the Forward Times’ application to the committee was that they never missed a week of print in over 60 years,” said Mabry. “Another thing that stood out was that the Forward Times is looking for new ways to connect with their audience, in addition to attracting a newer audience that currently may not be receiving their unique and much-needed content, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Mabry went on to say that people are realizing now, more than ever, how important accurate news and information is to their daily life, and Facebook believes that what the Forward Times does on a daily basis is a prime example of community service.
“The ability for the loyal and dedicated readers of the Forward Times to continue receiving impactful news and information, especially about the COVID-19 pandemic, has never been more critical,” said Mabry. “This grant will definitely assist the Forward Times with continuing to keep the community informed and disseminate important information that the community needs to navigate in the midst of this unprecedented and life-altering pandemic.”
As it relates to the impact Facebook hopes to have on communities of color with this grant offering to the Forward Times, Mabry states that Facebook simply wants to support underserved communities.
“It’s been widely reported that the pandemic is impacting communities of color, especially the African American community,” said Mabry. “We felt the Forward Times is a news outlet that is looking at what can be done beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, and a news outlet that will make the necessary investments and choices, now, in order to be prepared to address the next pandemic or situation, whenever it may occur. We encourage the Forward Times’ audience to support them, whether financially or by shooting them a thank you note for all the work they have done and are doing.”