The Eugene Weekly just got some good news from...Facebook. The publication received a $25-thousand dollar grant for COVID-19 Local News Relief Funding from the Facebook Journalism Project.
The competition was stiff—out of 2,000 newspapers and media outlets across the country, only 144 were awarded.
Editor Camilla Mortensen says most of the recipients are family or independently owned, like the Eugene Weekly. She says the grant application also had a strong focus on diversity.
“Eugene is not the most ethnically diverse area,” said Mortensen said, “but one of the things we did talk about is actually economic diversity, rural areas and the large homeless population that needs coverage.”
Mortensen plans to use a portion of the grant to add back staff hours-- cut when the pandemic hit. Money will also go toward investigative reporting and to restore coverage of local government, including city and county meetings.
The EW also plans to create a linked site with regular coverage of government meetings. “Bird-dogging,” says Mortensen.
“Sort of what the Register-Guard, in its hay day was doing, when they had a reporter who attended the meetings,” Mortensen said. “There have been numerous studies that show when a newspaper disappears-- or news coverage disappears-- *governments become less transparent, they become less accountable and they don’t function as well if they are not being watched.”