Without a doubt, 2020 has been a year of change. Our communities in Asia have endured the coronavirus pandemic for months and in some countries since the beginning of the year. People across our region are relying on news organizations to stay safe and informed.
As we connected with publishers and newsroom leaders in the early stages of the pandemic, we heard their need to address immediate and critical business needs. At the same time, these partners are committed to supporting their teams’ digital transformation so they not just survive the immediate impact of the pandemic but continue to build sustainable businesses long term.
When I started out in the news industry as a reporter over 20 years ago, newsrooms were only beginning to consider how technology would change journalism. I was intrigued by emerging technology and recognized the potential for newsrooms to tell stories in new ways and to create online content that would find new audiences. I pursued jobs that allowed me to build products, experiment with technology and create business and product strategies. It was that perfect combination of personal interest in technology and a passion for bringing journalism to wider audiences outside of physical country borders. It has been exciting to work at the intersection of technology and journalism over these years as the industry has evolved with digital.
As I share this experience with our news partners today, they recognize that newsrooms need to adopt new technologies and continue to innovate if they want to grow and evolve and build long term digital businesses.
Funding support for APAC newsrooms
In Asia, we have such a diverse array of publishers, ranging from the very traditional broadsheets that are only starting to experiment online, broadcasters transitioning to digital video and digital-first news organizations managing almost all of their reporting, editing and publishing from mobile phones. But they all have one thing in common – to build and support the skills of their journalists and ensure their newsrooms are equipped with the right technology to succeed with diverse revenue streams, including digital, in the future.
While we recognise the immediate impact of COVID-19 required emergency funding for the new community, the key priority has been to continue to support newsrooms in this region with their ongoing digital transformation. Supporting the skills development of the region’s news community is core to this. Facebook is proud to partner with Splice Media to deliver initiatives like Splice Lights On where we have delivered financial grants to over 50 newsrooms around the region. We work with WAN IFRA to help senior management teams from large publishers with their business transformation as well and work with journalists to build their video skills through our accelerator program with ICFJ.
Innovative newsrooms tools
At Facebook, we are committed to supporting quality journalism and we recognize the role we can play in helping news organizations to adapt to the challenges they face and evolve their business models. A part of this is our commitment to building products and services that will ensure Asia’s publishers can achieve their business goals.
We know that free products and services are valuable to small and emerging publishers who are in greatest need of support and who benefit most from being able to reach new audiences. But publishers need to ensure they can build the talent and skills of their newsrooms to maximize the opportunity that technology can create for newsrooms.
Free training for APAC news organizations and journalists
With restrictions on in-person meetings, we moved our training programs online, hosting digital bootcamps and video-on-demand series that have since reached journalists and news publishers in over 12 countries around the region. Sessions included how to use Facebook tools to broadcast Live, tips on monetizing with Facebook products, community standards and journalist safety, and support for mental and physical wellbeing.
Our Video Accelerator programs and Reader Revenue initiatives are also being held virtually. We are reaching over 115 newsrooms across Asia Pacific, assisting them with building skills to create more engaging content that can be monetized, to help them build their own digital strategy to drive revenue – from subscriptions, to membership models.
Facebook is committed to supporting publishers to build stronger businesses and transition to a digital future – that will help publishers find their audience and build a sustainable model that will ensure the future of journalism in our diverse region.