Google announces a Journalism Emergency Relief Fund for local newsrooms

Google is offering financial support to local newsrooms hit by the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of its Google News Initiative.

The company isn’t disclosing the size of what it’s calling its Journalism Emergency Relief Fund, but in a blog post, Google VP of News Richard Gingras said the goal is to fund “thousands of small, medium and local news publishers globally,” through awards ranging from “low thousands of dollars for small hyper-local newsrooms to low tens of thousands for larger newsrooms, with variations per region.”

“Local news is a vital resource for keeping people and communities connected in the best of times,” Gingras said. “Today, it plays an even greater function in reporting on local lockdowns or shelter at home orders, school and park closures, and data about how COVID-19 is affecting daily life. But that role is being challenged as the news industry deals with job cuts, furloughs and cutbacks as a result of the economic downturn prompted by COVID-19.”

Applications for funding open now. They will be open for two weeks, at 11:59pm Pacific time on April 29.

Gingras also said will be donating $1 million total to two organizations supporting journalists, the International Center for Journalists and the Columbia Journalism School’s Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.

The Google News Initiative (a broader effort to support journalism with an initial $300 million in funding) previously announced that it would be spending $6.5 million to support fact checkers and nonprofits that are working to fight coronavirus-related misinformation, funding that’s already led to tools like the COVID-19 Case Mapper.

Facebook has also said it’s committing $100 million (on top of its previous commitments) to support local news organizations in response to the current crisis.