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Facebook aims to support local news with fund to train UK journalists

Applications for the Community News Project open up in early 2019.

Facebook wants to help bolster community news.

The social network on Monday launched the Community News Project fund to support local journalism in the UK. The fund is an investment of $6 million (£4.5 million) to help the National Council for the Training of Journalists to recruit 80 trainees and place them in local newsrooms for two years.

The project aims to encourage more reporting from small towns that don't have newspapers or beat journalists. The application process will open in early 2019, according to Facebook's blog post. Publications like the Newsquest, JPIMedia, Reach, Archant and the Midland News Association are partners of the project.

"Community news is shared widely on Facebook, on pages and in community groups, and this collaboration will help us reach communities which don't currently benefit from in-depth community news," said Karyn Fleeting, head of audience at Reach, in the blog post.

The news push comes after a New York Times investigation put Facebook's top executives under microscope last week. CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg "ignored warning signs and then sought to conceal them from public view" before the Cambridge Analytica scandal hit the social network in March last year. The paper also said Facebook knew about Russian activities on its platform as early as spring 2016.

The paper also said Facebook used a firm called Definers Public Affairs to retaliate against or spread inflammatory information about its critics. Senators on Friday sent letter pressing the social network for more details of its relationship with Definers.