The Star Tribune accepted $150,000 in grant money from Facebook, the tech giant revealed Thursday.
According to a press release from Facebook, the company awarded $10.3 million to 144 local U.S. newsrooms as part of a “COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program.” Another $5.4 million was awarded to 59 North American newsrooms that participated in Facebook’s “Local News Accelerator” program, including The Star Tribune.
The Star Tribune received a $150,000 grant from Facebook, while Sahan Journal and MinnPost both received a $100,000 grant.
Steve Yaeger, chief marketing officer for The Star Tribune, told The Minnesota Sun that “the Facebook grant is entirely a business-side arrangement and would in no way influence our newsroom’s reporting on Facebook or any other subject.”
“Just as our relationships with hundreds of local and national advertisers do not involve our newsroom or influence our coverage in any way,” he said.
Facebook’s Local News Accelerator program was launched in 2018 to help news companies transition to reader revenue-driven business models, like subscriptions and memberships.
According to Facebook, participants of the program are “receiving relief grants to help safeguard the transformation they’ve achieved over the last several years and to capitalize on new opportunities.”
“We’re proud to support this diverse group of publishers – many of which are family or independently owned. 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,” said Campbell Brown, vice president of global news partnerships at Facebook.
The Facebook Journalism Project has launched several other grant programs to help struggling newsrooms during the coronavirus pandemic, including a $1 million grant program to “support fact-checkers” during the crisis.
The company also gave $2.5 million to Report for America, an organization that places hundreds of journalists in local newsrooms across the country.
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Editors’ note: Neither The Minnesota Sun nor any of the other digital newspapers in the Star News Digital Media network applied for a Facebook grant because it would be impossible to honestly cover Facebook after having accepted such a grant.