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WFSU Public Media Awarded $60,000 Facebook Grant For Local News

WFSU Public Media has been selected as one of six Florida newsrooms that will receive grants through Facebook’s Journalism Project Relief fund for local news.

The funding comes at a precarious time for newsrooms. Organizations across the country and across platforms have been struggling with a decline in revenues. The Tampa Bay Times made the decision to stop daily publishing, and newsrooms have furloughed and laid off the reporters needed to keep the information flowing. NPR has announced it will cut benefits and pay to its employees in order to deal with a projected $53 million deficit.

WFSU Public Media is seeing similar struggles, but that has not stopped this station’s staff from reporting about the impact of the coronavirus on our community. As newsrooms shrink, WFSU is planning to use its Facebook funding to invest in staff and technology that expands its digital footprint and enhances and improves its coverage of rural areas within a 13-county coverage area.

“This funding provides WFSU Public Media the opportunity to expand our coverage of the impact of the coronavirus. In particular, we can increase coverage in the Panama City area and counties still struggling from the impact of Hurricane Michael. We can expand hours for reporters and provide them the tools they need to work remotely,” said Kim Kelling, Director of Content & Community Partnerships for WFSU.

Facebook received 2,000 applications for its reporting grants and made awards to 200 news organizations.

“It’s clear WFSU has its eye on the future, not just the news of the moment,” said Facebook’s Josh Mabry, head of Local News Partnerships. WFSU’s grant pitch caught the eye of the selection committee for its focus on rural communities in North Florida.

“There are communities that haven’t recovered from [Hurricane Michael] a few years ago, now you put a pandemic over it,” Mabry said. “That’s a situation that’s even more dire than what others are going through right now. We really wanted to focus on under-served communities.”

The other Florida grantees are the Miami Herald, Solmart Media, the Tampa Bay Times, The Weekly Challenger Newspaper, and WUOH-LP (Mas 100.7 FM). Facebook announced nearly $16 million in grants that stem from $25 million in local news relief funding announced in March as part of Facebook’s $100 million global investment in local news.

WFSU Public Media’s work extends beyond its news coverage. It also houses an expansive education outreach department that works with low-income families and Title I schools.

As schools shuttered and moved classes online and handed out work to be done remotely, WFSU Public Media began airing a weekday television schedule of educational programs aligned to state standards. The station has and continues to offer a suite of free digital learning resources accessible from home to help families engage with and encourage learning among their children during the coronavirus pandemic.

About WFSU

WFSU Public Media provides quality public broadcasting services to the north Florida and south Georgia areas. WFSU Public Media is both an NPR and PBS member station, with both TV and FM housed together in one building near Innovation Park. In Panama City, WFSU Public Media is known as WFSG-TV and WFSW-FM. WFSU Public Media also provides community engagement and educational services. Examples include Ready To Learn Community Collaboratives for Early Learning & Media the American Graduate Project and children's projects associated with PBS KIDS. WFSU Public Media enriches lives and cultivates diverse perspectives by connecting our community through content and services that inform, educate, and entertain.

Contacts:Kim Kelling

Director of Content & Community Partnerships

WFSU Public Media