Eugene Weekly was among more than 2,000 newspaper and media outlets across the country to apply for COVID-19 Local News Relief Funding from the Facebook Journalism Project, and EW was one of only 144 papers — and only three in Oregon — to receive a grant.
The $25,000 in grant money will go to keeping EW’s staff publishing its arts and entertainment reporting and its investigative and solutions journalism. And the money will go to jumpstarting EW’s efforts to restore coverage of local government to the Lane County area, as well as start a weekly email newsletter keeping readers up to date.
Grants ranged from $25,000 to $100,000 and, according to the FJP, nearly four in five of recipients are family or independently owned; half are published by or for communities of color, nearly 40 percent are digitally native publishers; and just over a third are nonprofits.
“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,” says Campbell Brown, VP of global news partnerships at Facebook.
Grant recipients were selected through a process led by the Local Media Association (LMA) and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism with significant contributions from the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION), Local Media Consortium (LMC), and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).
EW is free, locally and independently owned and has been read in Lane County since 1982.
“Like many area businesses, EW has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The advertising that supports the paper has largely disappeared because those businesses themselves are struggling to stay afloat,” EW editor Camilla Mortensen says.
“Thanks to reader contributions and the ads we still have, the paper has been able to keep printing, and thanks to a Paycheck Protection Program loan from the federal Small Business Administration, salaries are paid, but this grant now allows us to take things further and help bring back some of the important reporting on local government that has disappeared in the area.”
According to a 2019 report by PEN America, “As local journalism declines, government officials conduct themselves with less integrity, efficiency and effectiveness and corporate malfeasance goes unchecked. With the loss of local news, citizens are: less likely to vote, less politically informed and less likely to run for office.”
The other papers in Oregon to receive grants were the nonprofit Underscore Media Collaboration and The Source in Bend.
EW seeks to keep Lane County informed, as well as entertained, in print and online. Its ownership do not take profit out of the paper. All contributions, grants and ad money go into the paper, its staff and the local community. You can see the full list of recipients at this link.