Meta announces new commitment to support sustainability of NZ newsrooms

Meta, aka Facebook, is looking to invest in the local news ecosystem to drive greater and more diverse plurality in the sector, while encouraging a digital transition that it says is key to sustainability.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Meta says that it is committed to supporting quality journalism and recognises that it can play a role in helping New Zealand’s news industry thrive in a changing digital world. 

“The New Zealand Government’s Public Interest Journalism Fund aims to preserve and enhance public interest journalism. We share the Government’s commitment and believe by helping publishers reach people through free distribution, and investing in free tools and programs specifically designed to help build audiences and revenue, we can support sustainable business models for the long term.

“Our four-part investment is designed specifically for Aotearoa New Zealand and tailored to support the local industry, especially regional, digital and culturally-diverse publications,” the technology company says in a statement.

Its investments include:

  1. Supporting local publishers develop sustainable business models through our Accelerator and Grant Fund;
  2. Establishing a Meta Aotearoa News Innovation Advisory Group;
  3. Investing in video and content innovation with Kiwi publishers;
  4. Dedicated training for Kiwi publishers on growing and engaging digital audiences.

Meta will launch its first Audience Development Accelerator Program + Grant Funding Program in New Zealand. The Accelerator will bring 12 publishers from regional, digital and culturally-diverse publications together to innovate, learn from experts, and collaborate on new strategies to improve their business both on and off Facebook. 

Funded and organised by the Facebook Journalism Project, and tailored to New Zealand’s media industry, the Accelerator will be led by Blue Engine Collaborative – a consortium of mission-driven consultants and advisors focused on driving digital audience growth and revenue, founded by Tim Griggs, a former New York Times executive.

The programme is built on three key areas of collaboration and investment – expert workshops, dedicated coaching, and associated grant funding for participating publishers to adopt new initiatives using the lessons gained from the Accelerator. Grants will be provided through the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).

“Newsroom leaders across the world are finding ways to better serve their audiences and boost revenue, and we are committed to supporting those efforts,” says Johanna Carrillo, ICFJ’s vice president of programs. 

“We’re excited to now support New Zealand publishers as they work to build more sustainable news outlets in the public interest.”

In partnership with ICFJ, Meta is also establishing the Meta Aotearoa News Innovation Advisory Group — a group of five experts across New Zealand’s media industry, including Te Karere  presenter, Scotty Morrison; AUT media and communications academic, Khairiah Rhaman; media expert, Rick Neville; media consultant and former MediaWorks News Director, Hal Crawford; and award-winning journalist and business owner, Brodie Kane.

Meta is hosting its first virtual Facebook NZ News Day in New Zealand on Friday, November 26 to provide scaled and dedicated coaching to newsrooms across New Zealand.

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