Over the last few years, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) has created opportunities to partner with media companies to share content more easily while also generating mutually beneficial reader relationships and revenue. These partnerships with media companies are in jeopardy though as publishers try to navigate Facebook’s Instant Articles, questionable metrics and fake news. To try to regain credibility with media companies and to find more ways to work together, Facebook is rolling out the Facebook Journalism Project.
Fidji Simo, director of product for Facebook, explains the Facebook Journalism Project in a January 11 post:
“Facebook is a new kind of platform and we want to do our part to enable people to have meaningful conversations, to be informed and to be connected to each other. We know that our community values sharing and discussing ideas and news, and as a part of our service, we care a great deal about making sure that a healthy news ecosystem and journalism can thrive,” said Simo.
“That’s why today we’re announcing a new program to establish stronger ties between Facebook and the news industry. We will be collaborating with news organizations to develop products, learning from journalists about ways we can be a better partner, and working with publishers and educators on how we can equip people with the knowledge they need to be informed readers in the digital age,” Simo said.
Simo said the Facebook Journalism will work in three ways:
- Working collaboratively with news organzations o create news products
- Training and tools for journalists
- Training and tools for everyone
Simo breaks this down to the tactical level to explain what this journalism project will achieve. Here are a few highlights:
- Evolve existing storytelling formats (e.g., Live, 360, Instant Articles)
- Support local news and promote independent media
- Explore and experiment with existing and emerging business models, including free trials and subscriptions
- Host hackathons between Facebook engineers and news organizations to identify opportunities and hack solutions
- Listen to media and publishing partners in the U.S. and abroad
- Offer e-learning courses on Facebook products, tools and services for journalists. This includes expanding training into nine additional languages and partnering with Poynter to launch a certificate curriculum for journalists.
- Provide training with collaborations with organizations including the Knight Foundation, Institute for Nonprofit News and others
- Give journalists free access to CrowdTangle, a tool to surface stories, measure social performance and identify key influencers.
- Offer page administrators the ability to note specific journalists as contributors so they can use Facebook Live on that page.
- Help with eyewitness media by continuing Facebook’s partnership with First Draft Partner Network.
- Promote news literacy through third-party organizations like the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University.
- Produce public service ads (PSAs) to share information about news literacy.
- Continue efforts to reduce the spread of news hoaxes.
“This is just the beginning of our effort on that front – we have much more to do,” Simo said.
These changes go a long way to show that Facebook wants to partner with news organization, not compete with them. That was the original intent of Instant Articles, but that product fell short of its goal.
This new project, however, is exciting. We agree that collaboration with publishers will yield better results than Facebook operating in a vacuum, and we like that there will be more opportunities and flexibility available to organizations. The new options for monetization will be particularly appealing to subscription and membership-based companies.
We also love Facebook’s desire to help train journalists and educate the public to make news and news consumption better. By collaborating with experienced partners, Facebook has the ability to make a difference in how news is consumed and to help news organizations get the exposure and tools they need to put out the best products possible. If Facebook follows through on its plans, we will all benefit.