At some point, it seems everyone has had a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I’m on the bitter side of that right now. The company ran a grant program last month – expressly, they said, to help struggling news companies get important information out to rural areas about the COVID-19 pandemic. They encouraged small news organizations to apply. My network was among the applicants. We filled out a fairly business-invasive application, included official IRS documents with financials and other information. We gave them our coverage plan and told them the ways we were helping our listeners stay informed every hour with new information. We gave them our budget and spelled out what we needed to do that job.
We were not chosen.
You know what? That’s okay. They’re still doing a good thing by helping the struggling small media companies in rural areas cover an important topic. At least, that’s what I thought until I looked at the list of companies that had received the grant. It’s filled with some of the largest media companies in big cities. For example, Minneapolis. It’s not exactly rural, is it? In North Dakota and South Dakota both, companies that legitimately reach in the state’s most rural areas and have access to the most under-served populations were passed over in favor of media companies with newspapers and TV stations in Fargo and Sioux Falls – the biggest cities in those states. I was livid. I am still. They’re not reaching rural and under-served people with these grants. So, what was the point? I don’t know. I can only make assumptions, which, in my ever-present goal of being a fair and balanced journalist, I try not to do.
I do know that we gave a major communication-based company – which could be considered an online competitor – every detail of what we do, how we do it, and the financial worthiness of our coverage areas.
I suddenly feel very naïve.