Facebook expands Local News Accelerator to Australia with 11 publishers on board

The Facebook Journalism Project, which works with publishers around the world through training, programs and partnerships to help support the industry, has announced the expansion of its Local News Accelerator program to Australia and New Zealand.

The program will launch in partnership with the Walkley Foundation and support 11 publishers for three months to boost direct reader revenue through subscriptions, memberships, and one-off payments.

Facebook is bringing its Local News Accelerator to Australia and New Zealand after a successful launch in multiple other countries

Participating partners include News Corp, Australian Community Media, The Guardian, The Conversation, Crikey, The West Australian, Solstice Media, Schwartz Media, and New Zealand publishers The New Zealand Herald, The Spinoff, and Newsroom.

The Accelerator program provides platform-agnostic training, coaching and project funding for news organisations to connect with and monetise their audiences on and off Facebook.

The program initially began in 2018 with a three-month pilot in the US, working with metro newspapers to improve their digital subscription business strategies. The program in Australia and New Zealand will take place in two parts and follows a successful launch in North America, Latin America and Germany.

Stage one will be a three-month curriculum of hands-on workshops led by industry experts and global media leaders, sharing best in-practice reader revenue strategies and tactics. Publishers will also be invited to face-to-face meetings at Facebook’s Sydney office.

Stage two will see the participating publishers receive funding to test and implement new reader revenue strategies to be developed with coaches. The grants will be administered by the Walkley Foundation.

“The Walkley Foundation is committed to fostering resilience and growth in the industry in practical, measurable ways,” said Louisa Graham, chief executive of the Walkley Foundation.

“Facebook’s Accelerator Program is designed to support Australian newsrooms in maximising new revenue streams. This will ultimately allow news organisations to continue their important work and report on the issues that matter to Australian society.”

The ANZ launch of the Accelerator Program follows hot on the heels of Facebook’s response to the ACCC Digital Platforms Final Report, which saw the social media giant targeted alongside Google. The report, which suggested the two tech companies have too much power in the Australian market and have hurt publishers with their monopoly on the digital space, came with 23 recommendations which are currently being reviewed by publishers and the government.

In its response to the report, Facebook argued its terms actually benefit local publishers, and that its reach is similar to that held by media companies like News Corp Australia.

Facebook also recently announced a series of partnerships with news organisations, including Ten, Seven and Nine, for exclusive content which will run on the Facebook Watch page. This follows a model in the US which saw the platform partner with publishers on exclusive news and content.


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