Media Insider: Letter to Congress Requests $5B for Local News, CNN Acquires Canopy, Quibi Launches

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s round-up of media stories from the week.

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Press-Freedom, Social-Justice Groups Call on Congress to Fund Journalism and Treat Local News as Essential Service During Pandemic

A coalition of more than 45 organizations sent a letter to Congress this week urging House and Senate leadership to consider local press an “essential service” vital to the nation’s health, prosperity, and recovery. Specifically, the organizations ask Congress to allocate at least $5 billion to support local journalism in the next stimulus package. According to the Poynter Institute, more than 60 U.S. news organizations have announced newsroom layoffs, furloughs, and closures since the beginning of the national health emergency. Craig Aaron, president and co-CEO of Free Press Action, stated, “We can’t get through this pandemic—or the next one—without resilient and community-centered media. Right now, journalists are essential workers. We need reporters out there reporting, especially in working-class and immigrant communities and communities of color, where COVID-19 has had a devastating impact.”

Related: Over a decade ago, publishers were almost unanimous in deciding not to accept government assistance. Today, many news organizations are casting aside historic taboos and applying for federal money.

How food publishers are giving back to the restaurant industry

Food & Wine, Eater, and Thrillist are using their platforms to give back to the restaurant industry during the coronavirus pandemic. Food & Wine published several guides on its F&W Pro platform, which include mental health resources and advice on how restaurants can benefit from the stimulus package. Eater updated its content strategy to focus on helping local industry workers understand new local laws and guidelines and how to talk to landlords or insurance companies about delaying payment. Eater also created local maps showing where consumers can order takeout or delivery or purchase gift cards to support community restaurants. Thrillist is taking a national approach by promoting a nonprofit called the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation. Thrillist also launched a new video series called “Ghost Kitchen,” which highlights takeout only restaurants during the pandemic and gives them free promotion.

Longtime sports broadcaster Paul Finebaum evolves his daily show into a forum for coronavirus fear, healing, and occasional shaming.

CNN Buys Content-Recommendation Startup Canopy to Build Out Digital News Platform

CNN announced its acquisition of Canopy, a start-up that developed a personalized, privacy-focused content-recommendation engine. Canopy uses human curation and differential privacy to help readers discover things they want to see, while also keeping personal data private. Canopy will be used to accelerate the development of CNN’s upcoming news and information platform. CNN is not disclosing specific details on the upcoming project, codenamed “NewsCo,” or any financial terms of the deal with Canopy. However, CNN did confirm Canopy’s 15 employees will join CNN and work alongside two dozen of its employees on the project.

ICYMI: Gannett stock has now fallen to 65 cents a share.

Two Veteran C.E.O.s Risk $1.8 Billion on a Streaming App. In a Pandemic.

Industry veterans Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman have moved forward with the launch of their short-video platform, Quibi. In the last two years the duo has prodded investors, raising nearly $1.8 billion, and reeled in several recognizable producers and stars to secure the success of their ambitious venture. Quibi offers “quick bites,” no more than 10 minutes, of original content covering three main categories: movies, reality shows, and news programs. The app will be free for its first three months. After that, the cost will be $5/month with ads and $8 without ads. Despite facing several challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the cancellation of the launch party and inability to hold in-person meetings at such a crucial time, Mr. Katzenberg and Ms. Whitman believe they will beat the odds and see Quibi succeed in time.

Has coronavirus made the internet better? Read how the internet is serving a nation that is suffering in isolation and fear.

Racial Equity in Journalism Fund Awards $2.3 Million to News Organizations Led By and For Communities of Color

Racial Equity in Journalism (REJ) Fund at Borealis Philanthropy awarded $2.3 million in grants to 16 news organizations serving communities of color. REJ Fund aims to strengthen news organizations led by people of color and partners in equity in order to increase civic engagement for communities of color. The grantees are media outlets that utilize a variety of mediums to provide timely and important news to audiences who are underserved by mainstream media. Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies, stated, “During times of crisis, critical resources, supplies and attention are mostly aimed at the advantaged. The Racial Equity in Journalism Fund will bolster a strong, diverse, and independent media sector serving the public interest, at a time when communities of color need these outlets the most.”

Additional grants were awarded by Facebook Journalism Project Community Network and Philadelphia COVID-19 Community Information Fund to support coronavirus reporting.

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Erin Wade is a Senior Customer Content Specialist with PR Newswire. She is also an animal lover and aspiring world traveler. Tune into her insights as a social curator at @TotalCSR.

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