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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook will soon begin testing partnerships with a small group of independent writers for its new publishing platform, sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: The platform, which includes tools for journalists to build actual websites, in addition to newsletters, will be tested with a small group of writers, some of whom Facebook plans to pay to help get the tools off the ground.

Details: The publishing platform, which has yet to be officially named, is free-to-use, and will be integrated with Facebook Pages, sources say.

  • The Pages integration will allow writers, journalists, and other types of professional experts to publish content outside of text, like live videos and "Stories" status updates.
  • In time, Facebook plans to build tools within the platform that allow writers to monetize their websites and newsletters with subscriptions, and possibly other forms of revenue down the line.
  • The platform is meant to help writers create an audience community that is loyal and engaged. Facebook will allow writers to create Groups for their products on the Facebook, and will provide writers with metrics about how content is performing.

Be smart: Beginning around four years ago, Facebook began investing in incubator programs, products and events that are geared towards helping news companies, especially at the local level, build sustainable revenue streams.

  • It also created a separate feature called the "News Tab" as a dedicated space for news on Facebook where it has paid partnerships with many established news companies.
  • Now, it's trying to help find ways individual journalists can thrive as creators.

The big picture: The pandemic has prompted many high-profile journalists to leaving newsrooms to launch their own newsletters or websites. Now, tech companies are getting in on the trend.

  • Twitter acquired Revue, a newsletter platform for writers and publishers, in January, and has already begun integrating its newsletter platform into its main product. It recently announced a new feature that allows users to charge their followers for more content via a payment tool called "Super Follows."
  • LinkedIn, which is home to one of the largest communities of professionals on the internet, also plans to launch a creator program, that would work closely with the company's editorial arm, made up of many former journalists.

Go deeper: Pandemic spurs journalists to go it alone

Go deeper

SoCalGas agrees to $1.8 billion settlement for 2015 gas blowout

An evacuee with a Save Porter Ranch sign outside Southern California Gas Company's Aliso Canyon gate in Porter Ranch in January 2016 as the gas leak continued. Photos: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Southern California Gas Company and its parent company announced Monday they've agreed to pay up to $1.8 billion in settlement claims over the 2015 Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility blowout.

Why it matters: Some 100,000 tons of methane, ethane and toxic chemicals poured into the air for 112 days, forcing over 8,000 families to evacuate from their Los Angeles-area homes and sickening many with headaches, nausea and nosebleeds, per the L.A. Times.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

North Korea fires short-range missile to sea, slams "hostile" U.S. policy

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday that North Korea's military had fired a short-range missile toward its eastern sea, per AP.

Why it matters: North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations defended the latest launch in remarks to the UN General Assembly, demanding the U.S. and South Korea end their "hostile policy" against the country.

Arizona Judge: Adding mask mandates ban to budget bill unconstitutional

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

An Arizona judge ruled Monday that the state's ban on mask mandates in schools, and other measures put into the state budget by Republicans, are unconstitutional, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The sweeping ruling voids a ban on vaccine requirements for public universities, community colleges and local governments, and strikes down some non-COVID-related measures like a ban on teaching critical race theory in classrooms and anti-fraud measures for ballots.