The Selma Sun has been awarded a $35,000 grant from the Facebook Journalism Project’s COVID-19 US Local News Relief Grant Program.
The relief fund grant program supports local news agencies as they respond to immediate community needs and helps them maintain long-term sustainability during the coronavirus crisis.
The Selma Sun was among 144 newsrooms across the country selected from more than 2,000 applications from every state in the US and all US territories to receive a grant through the $16 million program, according to an announcement from Facebook.
The Selma Sun is one of only three media outlets – and the only newspaper – in Alabama to receive the grant.
“COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of hyperlocal news agencies staffed with knowledgeable journalists providing key information to the community so they can make good decisions for their lives,” said Selma Sun Publisher Cindy Fisher, who has owned the newspaper since September 2018. “This grant will help us find creative ways to increase our reach in Dallas County with videos, podcasts and more.”
Campbell Brown, VP of global news partnerships at Facebook, said, “We’re proud to support this diverse group of publishers — many of which are family or independently owned. Not only are these journalists working tirelessly to serve people right now — they’re focused on transformation, building innovative local news businesses that can continue to serve communities beyond the current pandemic.”
The Selma Sun publishes a weekly newspaper, posts stories throughout the day on their website selmasun.com and engages daily with the community on social media. Fisher also co-hosts “Sun Spot,” a weekly radio show on Classic Country KIX 101.5 FM.
“The Selma Sun is committed to shining a light on Selma and Dallas County using a variety of media so that news and information is accessible to everyone in this rural and underserved area,” Fisher said.
The COVID-19 Local News Relief Grant Program was designed to provide support for US local news organizations serving a critical role for communities impacted by COVID-19. Funding is intended to respond to immediate community needs and/or offset some revenue shortfalls to help publishers maintain long-term sustainability during this pandemic.
Grant recipients were selected through a process led by the Local Media Association (LMA) and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism and with significant contributions from the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION), Local Media Consortium (LMC), and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), according to a release from the Facebook Journalism Project.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role local news plays in our communities, while simultaneously threatening their very existence. Reviewing hundreds of applications on a tight timeline both illustrated the depth of need, but also highlighted the innovation that these small, independent publishers can provide for their communities when given the resources,” said Jonathan Kealing, INN’s chief network officer.
Other grant recipients in Alabama were WAAY-TV in Huntsville and Latino News, a digital news outlet based in Trussville.
Fisher said local support is also important. “We appreciate Dallas County’s support with subscriptions and advertising that also helps us provide news and information to the community.”
The Selma Sun is owned by Kingfisher Media LLC, a woman-owned multimedia firm that publishes newspapers and offers public relations and marketing services to small businesses.