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Facebook announced today the launch of its Local News Subscriptions Accelerator in France. The aim of this program, which represents an investment of €2 million, is to help French local and regional news publishers establish and develop subscription-based business models. This investment is part of a $300 million plan to support news initiatives by news publishers across the world over the next three years.

In this intensive 12-week program starting on September 16, Facebook will bring together media industry experts and provide tools, resources, and training to the participating media outlets, in order to help them develop their digital audience, promote their brand, and generate subscriptions.

To guarantee their long-term sustainability, it’s vital that French local and regional news publishers grow their digital subscriber base, and Facebook is just one part of this strategy. That’s why we created this program, launched in the U.S. last year and introduced to Europe for the first time in Germany in April 2019.

The Facebook team will work with 11 French and Belgian publishers to help them find new readers outside of Facebook and create more engagement: Ouest France, Sud Ouest, La Dépêche du Midi, La Voix du Nord, La Provence, Groupe EBRA, Paris-Normandie, La Nouvelle République du Centre, Centre France, Le Courrier Picard, and Sudpresse.

According to Jesper Doub, Facebook’s director of media partnerships for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa: “We’re delighted to be launching this program in France. We’ve already seen a very positive response from French news publishers, and people are really keen to get involved. We’re deeply committed to investing more to support local and regional news publishers here, in France and in Europe.”

The program will be led by its creator, Tim Griggs, a former New York Times executive and digital media consultant. We’ll also be working in partnership with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. which has supported more than 140,000 journalists in 180 countries.

A 12-week intensive program that combines training and project development

Over the course of 12 weeks, the participating media outlets and news groups will meet once a month and receive advice from digital subscription experts. They’ll also take part in weekly training sessions on a variety of topics intended to help them grow their digital subscriptions, including through the use of Facebook and other social networks.

With the help of the coaches, the publishers will develop their own projects designed to respond to their unique business needs. Each publisher will be granted funding to help them put their ideas into practice. Afterward, the participants will continue to be supported by the Facebook Journalism Project.

“The Facebook Accelerator was a big help to me. We discussed many things with the 13 other participating media outlets in Germany, and it was really great to see that we were all facing the same challenges. We also received top-quality advice from the coaches and experts, who were from The New York Times and The New Yorker, for example. And we had assignments to do from one meeting to the next,” explained Dr. Ruth Betz from Funke Mediengruppe, one of the biggest news publishers in Germany.

The results of the program launched in Germany a few months ago are already very positive. For example, during the first weeks following the launch of Rheinische Post‘s new “freemium” subscription offer, 38,000 readers subscribed. And as another example, Main-Echo grew its subscriber base from 1,700 at the start of the program to 7,000 at the end, by simplifying its newsletter subscription process.

“This program will help local media outlets in France build strong relationships and trust with their audience and to retain their readers,” said Sharon Moshavi, senior vice president of new initiatives at the ICFJ. “We’re delighted to have made this partnership, and we’re excited to share the lessons learned with our network of journalists across Europe and beyond.”

This initiative is part of Facebook’s ongoing efforts to provide tools and training to newsrooms and journalists, and to ensure our platform connects people with credible, local news. The Accelerator program complements existing programs such as tests to support subscriptions and video monetization solutions, which aim to support news publishers’ business models.

So that more news publishers can benefit from the discussions and insights from the Accelerator, we will publish information about the program, development strategies, and case studies on the Facebook Journalism Project site.

The Accelerator Program
The Facebook Journalism Project’s Accelerator Program helps news publishers build sustainable businesses. Funded and organized by the Facebook Journalism Project (FJP), each Accelerator includes a three-month period of hands-on workshops led by news industry veterans, grants administered by non-profit journalism organizations, and regular reports on best business practices. The Accelerator’s executive director is Tim Griggs, an independent consultant/advisor and former New York Times and Texas Tribune executive.

For monthly updates on the Accelerator Program, sign up for the FJP newsletter.