A frank one-on-one with the LMA's Nancy Lane on the end of Meta funding and the future of news publishing


Recently Meta (formally Facebook) made it official that it was leaving the news business, as they included most of the staff that worked within their “Meta Journalism Project Accelerator Program" in the 11,000 company positions eliminated in their mid-November 2022 mass layoffs.

Since 2019, the U.S.-based Local Media Association (LMA) and associated Local Media Foundation worked in partnership with Meta as a facilitator providing administrative services and publishing case studies about how over $16.8 million in funds were distributed across North America to local publishers. The funds were to assist them in initiatives that included building reader revenue, monetize branded content and others.

Some within the news publishing industry have criticized big tech companies like Google and Meta’s journalistic philanthropy, stating it was just a means to help them lobby against pending legislation. That legislation — the Journalism Competition & Preservation Act (JCPA) (H.R. 1735 and S. 673) — would allow news publishers to collectively negotiate with the tech platforms for fair compensation for the use of their content.

Others, like former ProPublica president Dick Tofel, have been adding their voice to many who feel that there are flaws in how these hundreds of millions in big-tech philanthropy have been allocated through organizations and not directly from the providers themselves.

However, LMA CEO Nancy Lane has been very outspoken lately in defending the positive impact the Meta Journalism Project has had on the industry, posting a statement about their organization's Meta dollars, "Most of the $16.8 million ($12+ million) was distributed through the COVID-19 relief fund and nearly 80 percent of recipients were family- or independently-owned.”

Lane stated: “More than half of the funds were used to benefit publishers by or for communities of color; nearly 40% were digitally native publishers, and over 1/3 were nonprofits." She also stated that "82% used the grants to expand their local reporting on COVID-19 issues. 23% said the funding outright saved their newsrooms from extinction.”

In this 164th episode of "E&P Reports," we go one-on-one with Local Media Association (LMA) and associated Local Media Foundation CEO Nancy Lane on her impressions of how the millions of dollars that Meta/ Facebook has donated to the news publishing industry since 2019 has benefited local journalism and the impact it may have in the future as those funds cease to exist. We also posed questions on the future of local news enterprises and what she feels are viable, sustainable business models for local journalism.


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