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Facebook has pledged to invest $300m in US local news over the next three years as the social platform seeks to buy its way out of criticism that it has had a malign impact on news publishers.

The cash will be distributed among a variety of initiatives and organisations; including a $5m investment in the Pulitzer Centre’s ‘Bringing Stories Home’ grant initiative and a $2m payment to Report for America, which aims to place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms across the US over the next five years.

In a blog post Campbell Brown, vice president of global news partnerships at Facebook, said: “There are two key areas where we hope to help: supporting local journalists and newsrooms with their newsgathering needs in the immediate future; and helping local news organizations build sustainable business models, through both our product and partnership work. Over time, we think this work can have the added benefit of fostering civic engagement, which research suggests is directly correlated with people’s reading of local news.”

Facebook has come under fire from publishers for syphoning off both readers and ad revenues to its own platform, accelerating the decline of local newspapers while contributing to the rise of ‘fake news’, misinformation and spam. Despite this social media beat off TV and newspapers to be named as the most relevant news source last year.

In the UK these trends have prompted Facebook to fund 80 UK trainee local news journalists from a £4.5m investment pot.