Today, we’re announcing the launch of our Local News Subscriptions Accelerator in Germany. This 2 million Euro program will help local German publishers to identify and develop subscriptions-based business models that work for them. This investment is part of a $300 million dollar plan to support news initiatives around the world over the next three years. For this program, we are bringing together industry experts and providing tools, resources and training specific to digital audience development, branding and subscription marketing.
When we talk to publishers about the future of journalism, local news publishers repeatedly tell us that digital subscribers are critical to the long-term sustainability of their business. We know Facebook is just one part of their strategy to engage readers and ultimately drive paid subscriptions, so we created this Accelerator programme, first piloted in the US last year, to help their businesses off platform as well.
Through the Accelerator we will work with 13 German publishing groups to help them find and engage new readers of the platform. Among the participating the publishing groups are: Funke Mediengruppe, Mediengruppe Straubinger Tagblatt/Landshuter Zeitung, Nordbayern Infonet, Oberpfalz Medien, Verlag und Druckerei Main-Echo, DuMont, Ippen Digital and Lensing Media.
Jesper Doub, Director of News Partnerships, EMEA, Facebook said “We’re excited to bring this Accelerator program to Europe for the first time. We’ve already seen a very positive response from many local publishers in Germany keen to get involved. Alongside initiatives such as the Community News Project which we launched in the UK last year, we’re deeply committed to investing more in supporting local news organizations here in Europe.”
We are continuing to work with Tim Griggs, a former New York Times executive and leading digital media consultant, who formed the program’s original curriculum. As part of the 12 week program participating publishers in Germany will meet in-person once a month and receive guidance from digital subscription experts. They’ll also join weekly training sessions on a range of marketing activities designed to help them boost digital subscriptions, including how to use Facebook and other social platforms.
“By extending this program to Germany, our goal is to give even more support to the important work done by local news publishers,” said Anne Kornblut, Facebook’s Director of New Initiatives, News Partnerships. “We believe local news plays a critical part in building community, and want to make sure the local news ecosystem is strong, whether their stories appear on Facebook or not.”
Working with coaches, publishers will also create their own projects, designed to tackle their unique business needs. Grant funding will help each publisher to put their ideas into practice. We’re partnering with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) – a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that has worked with more than 100,000 journalists across 180 countries – to run the program; ICFJ will provide the expert coaches and other support. Subsequently, the participating teams will continue to be supported by the Facebook Journalism Project.
“Journalists who report on their communities provide information people use to make critical decisions for themselves and their families,” said Joyce Barnathan, president of ICFJ. “We are committed to strengthening local news worldwide, and excited to partner with media outlets in Germany in particular, where we have worked with journalists for decades.”
This initiative is a part of our ongoing efforts to provide tools and trainings to newsrooms and journalists, and to ensure our platform connects people to credible, local news that we know matters to them. The Accelerator complements existing programs such as subscription tests and video monetisation, which aim to support publishers’ business models.
So that more publishers can benefit from the discussions and best practices debated during the Accelerator, we will publish insights and case studies on our Facebook Journalism Project website.