By Will Fritz
Associate Editor 

Village News Inc. receives $75,000 grant from Facebook Journalism Project


Last updated 5/14/2020 at 4:17pm

Village News Inc., the company that owns the Fallbrook/Bonsall Village News, Valley News and Anza Valley Outlook, has received a $75,000 grant from a project supporting local journalism and operated by Facebook.

Village News Inc. joins other California news organizations including Voice of San Diego, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Spotlight, in receiving money through the Facebook Journalism Project’s COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program. Twenty-six newsrooms in California were selected to receive more than $2.2 million in grant money, it was announced Thursday, May 7. Out of more than 2,000 applications, approximately 200 news organizations across the country were selected to receive nearly $16 million in grants stemming from $25 million in local news relief funding announced in March as part of Facebook’s $100 million global investment in local news, per a statement from Facebook.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has showcased the importance of local news to communities, especially during crisis situations,” Facebook’s statement said. “From sharing critical, time-sensitive information on the pandemic to asking tough questions to community leaders, local news organizations play a critical role in keeping communities informed and engaged.”

Village News Inc. publisher Julie Reeder said the company is excited and thankful to receive the grant money, which will help fund operations during a time when advertising has dropped by more than half.

It is especially helpful because “COVID-19 is the reason we have to work overtime writing and delivering news, and virus-related stories needed to be in front of the paywall,” Reeder said.

Village News Inc. has released a Spanish-language newspaper, Nuestra Vida Hoy, to communicate important coronavirus resources and information to the Spanish-speaking community in the area.

The company has also been conducting free webinars to help local business owners and managers with marketing online until they can reopen physical stores and offices.

And now that Village News Inc. has been selected to receive the Facebook Journalism Project’s grant money, the company will be using some of the funds to give back to the community.

“In addition, because we are receiving this grant, we are forming our own stimulus packages of advertising to offer small businesses who haven’t been able to afford advertising,” Reeder said. “It’s a way we can pass on the blessing to other businesses and further strengthen our community.”

According to Facebook, four in five of the news organizations receiving grant money are independently owned – as Village News Inc. is.

Grant recipients were selected through a process led by the Local Media Association and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism and with significant contributions from the Institute for Nonprofit News, Local Independent Online News Publishers, Local Media Consortium and the National Association of Broadcasters.

Remaining funds from Facebook’s COVID-19 News Relief Fund Grant Program will be used throughout 2020 to support projects focused on longer-term sustainability in local journalism, the company said.

The grants announced are in addition to a previous $300 million commitment the Facebook Journalism Project made “to serve journalists around the world through diverse and inclusive programs and partnerships.” Facebook has several program tracks to help fund local journalism including the Local News Accelerator, Community Network and Instagram Local News Fellowship.

These programs help bring news organizations together across the country to learn from one another and collaboratively develop strategies to improve their business both on and off Facebook,” the company said.

Will Fritz can be reached by email at [email protected]


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