Facebook has had its fair share of criticism lately, but local news publishers are doing just the opposite: They are praising the social media giant for its efforts to help local newspapers gain subscribers.
The program, called Local News Subscriptions Accelerator, brought newspapers together to discuss the best ways to grow subscriptions. The papers met each month for 3 months to receive training from experts, and take part in programs that utilized the skills they learned. The $3 million project was entirely funded by Facebook.
Participants were able to learn techniques from people within and outside of the industry, network with peers and receive grants to pursue new subscriber acquisition initiatives. Newspapers including the Tennessean had positive experiences at the conferences; they were able to talk with consumer marketing experts and learn from other publishers' experiences.
“It’s great to get money, but what I need help with is product development, and that’s where Facebook and Google have a lot of expertise,” said Neil Chase, executive editor of the Bay Area News Group, which wasn’t part of the accelerator program. “The thing you can’t hire as easily is the way they think. To sit down with them is valuable.”