Facebook, Ryerson and DMZ to Back Five News Startups in Canada

The Facebook Journalism Project is expanding to Toronto in a new partnership with the DMZ and Ryerson School of Journalism.

The social media network is launching the Digital News Innovation Challenge that will see five Canadian startups backed with $100,000 is seed capital and $50,000 worth of Facebook advertising to fuel their innovative digital news ideas. The five-month program will run out of Ryerson’s business incubator.

“There has never been a more important time for innovation in journalism, to experiment with technologies and economic models,” said Janice Neil, chair of the Ryerson School of Journalism at FCAD, in a statement.

The challenge is being completely funded by Facebook as part of its on-going efforts to support high-quality journalism and quash the spread of fake news and misinformation online.

“Quality journalism delivers facts and ideas that help us better understand society, and each other,” said Kevin Chan, head of public policy at Facebook Canada.

“The Facebook community values sharing and discussing ideas and news, which is why it is critical for us to partner with leading organizations like the DMZ and Ryerson School of Journalism to support the Canadian news ecosystem and help these startups succeed,” Chan added.

Social media and news are intrinsically connected, with more people sourcing news from online sites and social platforms instead of traditional channels. Canada has struggled to innovate digital media, resulting in the shuttering of daily papers. That’s something the new challenge is hoping to address head on.

“Our goal with this Canada-wide program will be to support and stimulate innovation in journalism, while developing a more sustainable news ecosystem through ongoing collaboration between the tech and news sectors,” said Abdullah Snobar, executive director of the DMZ at Ryerson University.

Founders and entrepreneurs can apply to the challenge online starting January 25, 2018 for one of five placements. The challenge is looking for ideas and startups that have a robust lean canvas business model, a collaborative leadership team and innovative digital news and storytelling ideas that can be turned into sustainable businesses.