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London Free Press among Canadian newsrooms tapped to join Facebook’s local news ‘Accelerator’ project

The London Free Press with Natalie Turvey 27 May 2019

Facebook is bringing its global Local News Accelarator project to Canada, and The London Free Press is one of a handful of newsrooms selected to take part.

The 12-week partnership, a $2.5-million investment by the social media giant, has tapped The Free Press along with two other long-standing large Canadian newsrooms – Le Soleil and The Winnipeg Free Press – and several smaller organizations to participate.

“Canadians expect relevant, quality news on Facebook and so do we,” said Facebook official Marc Dinsmore. “We are committed to exploring what we can build together with our partners to support local news, and will continue to invest in local news in Canada.”

The Canadian Journalism Foundation, a non-profit that promotes news coverage nationwide, supports the Accelerator project.

“We are committed to supporting local news innovation, and we’re excited to partner with Facebook and local news publishers to bring this program to life in Canada,” said CJF boss Natalie Turvey.

Facebook has faced criticism for its inability to deliver accurate news – and, more to the point, block misleading or untrue pseudo-news – on its platform. Officials with the social media giant describe the Accelerator as part of a broader effort to invest in “programs that help publishers develop sustainable business models, both on and off Facebook, so they can continue to do work that’s critical to a healthy democratic society.”

The London Free Press, Southwestern Ontario’s largest news organization, has for 170 years led the city and region in coverage of breaking news, deep analysis and investigative journalism.

The newsroom has been nominated for more than dozen National Newspaper Awards in roughly the past decade and recently won the prestigious Michener Award, Canada’s highest award for meritorious public service journalism.