DELMAR — Spotlight News has been named one of six newspapers in New York to receive a $5,000 grant from Facebook to help offset costs of COVID-19 pandemic coverage.
“Covering this crisis on the local level and helping our neighbors is what a community newspaper is supposed to do,” John McIntyre, publisher of Spotlight News, said. “This is a story that we are part of and affected by. As a small business, this is catastrophic and we are suffering along with our community.”
Spotlight News is one of 50 papers in North America to receive a grant in the first round of awards. The award, through the Facebook Journalism Project, is an effort to give $1 million to newsrooms to fund COVID-19 coverage. The 65-year-old paper has amped up its hyper-local coverage by supplementing its quality reporting with daily lists of open restaurants and essential businesses, with some listing over 120 local proprietors. Spotlight News partnered with local chambers of commerce and other community groups to gather the information.
“Local news enterprises have responded with superb, real-time, comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, but many newsrooms are resource-constrained just when our communities need us most,” said Jim Friedlich, CEO of The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. “The grants announced today are designed to provide rapid-response assistance for the coverage of this fast-moving news story. Our focus is on need, speed and scope – helping as many news organizations as we can, as quickly as we can.”
COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing in New York, with over 30,000 cases statewide and 166 confirmed cases in Albany County as of Thursday, March 26. As 100 percent of the state’s non-essential workforce is forced to stay home, essential services like health care, retail, restaurants, media and first responders are exempt from the order. Many are working with the doors locked and a fleet of employees remote; Spotlight is no different.
“This grant will help us continue our mission of providing local news to our community during this pandemic and the recovery,” McIntyre said. “Our community will recover, but we have to work together locally to stay in the game and fight through this.”
McIntyre said Spotlight has temporarily lost a majority of its advertisers, which is the company’s main source of revenue.
“You can’t expect people to advertise when their venues and businesses are closed, but this is when people need us the most,” he said. “I am blessed with a great team of professionals that cover engaged communities, and I am so glad the Facebook Journalism Project chose to help us.”
Spotlight News would also like to congratulate its fellow grantees from New York:
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