The New Orleans Tribune has been chosen as one of over 200 news organizations across the nation to receive a grant from the Facebook Journalism Project’s COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program.
The COVID-19 Local News Relief Grant Program provides support for local news organizations in the United States serving communities impacted by COVID-19. Funding can be used to respond to immediate community needs and/or offset some revenue shortfalls to help publishers maintain long-term sustainability during this crisis. More than 2,000 applications were received, according to the announcement made by the program. In all, 203 newsrooms across the country were awarded nearly $16 million. Grant recipients were announced on Thursday, May 7.
The New Orleans Tribune is proud to be among the recipients.
Founded in 1985 by Dr. Dwight and Beverly McKenna, along with Kermit Thomas and James Borders, The New Orleans Tribune offers an unfettered voice speaking to, for and about the Black community and the issues that impact it. Beginning as a monthly print publication, The New Orleans Tribune has expanded its delivery methods to include its website, live and recorded video interviews and coverage, an e-newsletter, and the use of social media platforms.
The grant will aid the outlet in enhancing its work, especially with respect to its digital delivery methods.
“Being awarded this $100,000 grant is a testament to just how important The Tribune and other news outlets that serve our communities are, especially in times of crisis,” said New Orleans Tribune Publisher Beverly McKenna. “People want a voice they can trust—one that speaks to and about the unique concerns of their communities, especially when those communities are already marginalized. I am proud to say that The New Orleans Tribune is such a voice.”
McKenna continued, “This grant is also a testament to the dedication of our staff. Our operation has been affected by COVID-19 in the same ways as countless businesses across the nation. Revenue has diminished. We have had to reduce hours and furlough some employees. More importantly, we are facing the same challenge as our fellow New Orleanians to protect our own health and that of our families during this pandemic. Those realities aside, we corral our scarce resources to continue to disseminate news and analysis in print and on our digital platforms so that our readers and followers remain informed at a time such as this. This grant will help support that work. And we are grateful to the Facebook Journalism Project’s COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program for recognizing our effort and the vital role we play in our community.”
The grants come from $25 million in local news relief funding announced in March as part of Facebook’s $100 million global investment in news.
Nearly 80 percent of recipients are family- or independently owned and more than half are published by or for communities of color. In all, $10.3 million will go to 144 local newsrooms in America as a part of the COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program. Another $5.4 million is being awarded to 59 North American newsrooms that participated in Facebook Local News Accelerator programs focused on subscriptions and memberships.
Remaining funds will be used throughout 2020 to support projects focused on longer-term sustainability in local journalism, including $2.5 million for Report for America to help the group place 225 journalists in 160 local news organizations for their 2020 reporting corps.
Grant recipients were chosen by the Local Media Association (LMA) and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, with assistance from the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION), Local Media Consortium (LMC), and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role local news plays in our communities, while simultaneously threatening their very existence. Reviewing hundreds of applications on a tight timeline both illustrated the depth of need, but also highlighted the innovation that these small, independent publishers can provide for their communities when given the resources,” said Jonathan Kealing, INN’s chief network officer in a statement announcing the grant awards. “I’m excited to see new news products and more critical original reporting in these communities, thanks to Facebook’s support.”
Nearly 80 percent of grant recipients are family- or independently owned. Half are published by or for communities of color. Nearly 40 percent of the grant recipients were founded as digital news outlets. And just over a third are non-profits.
“We’re proud to support this diverse group of publishers — many of which are family- or independently owned. Not only are these journalists working tirelessly to serve people right now — they’re focused on transformation, building innovative local news businesses that can continue to serve communities beyond the current pandemic,” Campbell Brown, VP of global news partnerships at Facebook, said in a statement announcing the grant awards.
The New Orleans Tribune will use the $100,000 grant to bolster its current news delivery efforts during this crisis. Funds will also support its operations over the course of the next year as it continues to focus on COVID-19 through a project that deeply examines the disparate impact of coronavirus on the African-American community across social determinants in conjunction with its regular reporting.
Delving deeper into the pandemic’s impact on the Black community is intrinsically tied to the mission of The New Orleans Tribune.
“Coronavirus has laid bare just how vulnerable and disenfranchised our communities remain,” said New Orleans Tribune Managing Editor Anitra Brown. And while health disparities figure prominently, these outcomes also stem from economic disparities, disparities in criminal justice system and education systems, issues related to food insecurity, a lack of access to stable, quality and affordable housing and much more.”
Brown continued, “We believe The Tribune is uniquely positioned to galvanize those conversations through solutions-driven journalism that brings decisions makers and stakeholders together on a path toward substantive change that results in improved outcomes. This funding will help do us do that. When the economy begins to open across the country, state, and here in New Orleans, the new normal cannot be a return to business as usual when it comes to addressing racial inequity in America.”