After a summit in 2019 where Facebook’s news-partnerships team announced a plan to spend $300 million over three years expanding infrastructure for local news, the company, now known as Meta, has spent the past year cutting funding for and downsizing most of its journalism efforts.
Facebook had issued a stated goal of “supporting local journalists and newsrooms with their newsgathering needs in the immediate future, and helping local news organizations build sustainable business models.”
Columbia Journalism Review reported that last month, Meta laid off a number of staffers from its journalism programs. These include several who were in charge of local news partnerships, as well as Meta’s director of international news partnerships, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Campbell Brown, who was previously in charge of news partnerships for Meta, was recently moved into a broader role.
In July, The Wall Street Journal quoted from an internal memo sent by Brown, in which she said that the company was “reallocating resources” away from the Facebook News project and Bulletin, the newsletter platform Meta launched just over a year earlier, in an attempt to compete with Substack. In October, The New York Times reported that Bulletin is officially dead.
In 2018, CJR wrote about the “Facebook Armageddon” for news, saying:
“There’s another way the Facebook threat could actually get worse: Instead of continuing to be a primary platform for news companies and trying to strike relationships with them, the company could decide to simply wash its hands of news entirely, either because it isn’t generating enough revenue, or because it has become too much of a political headache.”
While larger news outlets may have little trouble replacing the funding they used to get from Meta, Nancy Lane, the chief executive of the Local Media Association, told the Nieman Journalism Lab that local media organizations may not have it so easy, now that the more than $16 million in funding Meta used to provide has vanished.
“For all those who hated on FB over the yrs, you got what you wished for. News is now being deprioritized on the platform, despite being the #1 source for so many,” Lane wrote on Twitter. “The news partnership team has been dissolved & many industry labs/accelerators are going away. It’s a sad day indeed.”
Image by Ivy Liu