Facebook unveiled its own publishing platform for independent writers last month that would allow them to create individual websites and newsletters, complete with monetization tools such as subscriptions. Today, Facebook has announced that it is setting aside a sum of $5 million to woo local reporters so that they can join the company’s new initiative which aims to give independent writers a platform where they can earn more money.

Facebook is currently accepting applications only from US-based local reporters

First reported by Reuters, Facebook has already started accepting applications and will prioritize writers who want to write about issues catering to ‘Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian or other audiences of color.’ The social media giant is joining hands with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) to assess the applications and also reach a network of reporters who might be interested in what Facebook has to offer.

Facebook says that reporters who make it past the selection process will pocket a multi-year licensing fee that gives them time to build their own audience. Moreover, they will get access to monteziation tools such as subscriptions, with the writer being allowed to set the subscription price. However, applicants must be independent writers who do not have an ongoing employment contract with a news publication. Additionally, the area or community they choose to write about should not be ideally under the coverage scanner of a media company.

Facebook wants to one-up Substack by exploiting its massive user base and reach

At the moment, Facebook is only accepting applications from independent writers based in the US. Those who are cherry-picked will have to regularly publish content and engage with their reader base or community using Facebook tools such as Pages and live discussions. Writers will also get access to insights and analysis tools, and will be able to contribute content in the form of text-based work of journalism, photos, live videos, and even stories. At this point in time, it is abundantly clear that Facebook is going after Substack, which currently leads the domain of newsletters and has already secured the service of some well-known names from established publications.

I’ve been writing about consumer technology for over three years now, having worked with names such as NDTV and Beebom in the past. Aside from covering the latest news, I’ve reviewed my fair share of devices ranging from smartphones and laptops to smart home devices. I also have interviewed tech execs and appeared as a host in YouTube videos talking about the latest and greatest gadgets out there.