One of the most important things in the middle of a global pandemic is the ability to access to quality journalism that is hyper-focused on the truth. The right to a free press is a right guaranteed to all of us in the U.S Constitution through the freedom of expression clause in the 1st amendment to the constitution. Which makes it even more important that newsrooms have access to the resources that they need.
Facebook has awarded journalism grants through the Facebook Journalism Project for local news to newsrooms all over than country, which is at a time where funding is low and layoffs are rampant is very much needed.
One such newsroom, the Sumter Item in South Carolina, received a $100,000 grant, which was one of the largest grants that was awarded to a local news outlet.
The Sumpter Item, in Sumpter, South Carolina, was founded (along with Osteen Publishing) by Hubert Graham Osteen on October 15, 1894, in Sumter, S.C. The newspaper which has sister newspapers in other cities and states all over the country covers a wide variety of topics and has a special focus on COVID-19 during the pandemic.
Sumpter Item Publisher, Vince Johnson had this to say about the newspaper receiving the grant from Facebook’s Journalism Project:
This is a tremendous honor to our staff, and it’s certainly reflective of our commitment to Sumter, Clarendon, and Lee counties and our dedication to our entire region as the primary news source for our area.”
Johnson then continued on to thank everyone involved in this effort:
“We’d like to thank Facebook, as well as their partners, specifically the Local Media Association and the Lenfest Institute, for prioritizing family-owned news organizations directly serving individual communities.”
These grants have all been awarded as part of the Local News Relief Fund Grant Program. And this isn’t the first time that The Sumter Item has been recognized for their incredible work on behalf of their readers. In fact, The Sumpter Item had been named one of America’s Top 10 Newspapers That Do It Right by Editor and Publisher in 2019, as well as being selected as a participant of the UNC-Knight Foundation Table Stakes News Initiative, among other impressive accomplishments.