Quantcast
Connect with us

What does Facebook’s plan to hire journalists mean for media industry?

Published

on

Facebook’s plan to hire professional journalists instead of relying solely on algorithms to deliver news is a positive step but is unlikely to shake up an embattled media industry, analysts say.

The social media giant said Tuesday it would build a small team of journalists to select the top national news of the day “to ensure we’re highlighting the right stories.”

ADVERTISEMENT

It comes as the US media landscape is plagued by job losses and newspaper closures, with organizations trying to figure out how to record profits in the age of free news.

Stories will appear in a section called the “news tab,” which will be separate from the traditional news feed that displays updates and content from users’ friends and relatives.

“In theory I see this as a really positive development. It is something quite promising,” Danna Young, a communications professor at the University of Delaware, told AFP.

Facebook’s journalists will be curating stories from news sites and won’t be editing headlines or writing content.

The California-based company has consistently said it does not want to be considered a media organization that makes major editorial decisions, and this announcement does little to change that, experts add.

ADVERTISEMENT

“It’s not transformative because it’s not going to change necessarily the behavior of individuals who are referencing stories on their feeds,” said Young.

“That’s where the power comes from — individuals you know and trust putting their tacit stamp of approval on stories by sharing them,” she added.

– ‘Personalized’ –

ADVERTISEMENT

The tab will be the site’s first news feature using human moderators since it shut down its ill-fated “trending topics” section last year after a scandal over allegations workers had suppressed stories about conservative issues.

Articles not deemed top news stories will still be collated using algorithms based on the user’s history, such as pages they follow, publications they subscribe to and news they have already interacted with.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Our goal with the news tab is to provide a personalized, highly relevant experience for people,” Facebook head of news partnerships Campbell Brown told AFP in San Francisco Tuesday.

The news tab feature comes as Facebook embarks on a series of initiatives to boost journalism, with traditional media organizations accusing it of benefitting financially from their hard work.

Internet platforms are dominating the internet advertising space making it difficult for established news organizations to transition what were very profitable print advertisements online.

ADVERTISEMENT

Facebook announced in January that it will invest $300 million over three years to support journalism, particularly local news organizations.

It has also funded fact-checking projects around the world, including one in partnership with AFP.

Facebook will reportedly pay some publishers to license news content for the tab but Mathew Ingram, who writes about digital media for the Columbia Journalism Review, doesn’t expect that to trickle down to hard-up organizations that need it the most.

“The companies they are going to choose are ones already doing well I assume. It might give them a little extra cash but I don’t see it driving a huge amount of traffic,” he told AFP.

ADVERTISEMENT

– ‘Destructive’ –

Print journalism in the US is in free-fall as social media overtakes newspapers as the main news source for Americans.

Around 2,000 American newspapers closed in the past 15 years, according to the University of North Carolina, leaving millions of residents without reporters keeping track of what their local authorities are up to.

“The death of local news has such destructive effects for democracy. It’s a complex issue that Facebook alone cannot fix,” said Young.

ADVERTISEMENT

The number of journalists working at US newspapers slumped by 47 percent from 2008 to 2018, according to a Pew Research Center survey released last year.

The total number of journalists in newsrooms fell by 25 percent, the group found, while consultancy firm Challenger Gray & Christmas says this is going to be the worst year for layoffs since 2009.

It’s a difficult time for Stephen Groves, who recently earned a master’s in journalism at New York University, to be looking for work. When he heard about Facebook’s plans, he was skeptical.

“Facebook is not a journalism company and so before working for Facebook I would want to see their commitment to ethical, robust journalism,” the 30-year-old told AFP.

The digital sector is also in trouble.

ADVERTISEMENT

When Buzzfeed cut 200 jobs in January, 29-year-old Emily Tamkin was let go from a position she had held for just a few months.

“I’m personally not cheered by the fact that Facebook is swooping in and hiring journalists. If that’s the silver lining then we have a very big cloud here,” she told AFP.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

Nunes cuts off GOP lawyer when cross-examination flops as Fiona Hill outlines damning case against Trump

Published

on

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) was forced to cut off the House GOP's own attorney after he gave former National Security Council official Fiona Hill an opportunity to outline the damning case against President Donald Trump.

Nunes' interruption came while attorney Steve Castor was asking questions about Hill's past interactions with European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland, whom she admits she got upset with after learning that he was working on Ukraine policy despite the fact that Ukraine isn't even a member of the EU.

"What I was angry about was that he wasn't coordinating with us," Hill said, referring to the National Security Council. "And what I realized was, listening to his deposition, that he was absolutely right. He wasn't coordinating with us because we weren't doing the same thing that he was doing."

Continue Reading

Facebook

WATCH: Devin Nunes stunned after State Dept. official David Holmes knocks down his ‘black ledger’ conspiracy theory

Published

on

Intelligence Committee Ranking Republican Member Devin Nunes Thursday afternoon appeared stunned when he questioned a U.S. State Dept. official during the impeachment hearings and did not get the answer he anticipated.

Rep. Nunes has been spewing far right wing conspiracy theories during each impeachment hearing over the past two weeks, including the thoroughly debunked lie that Ukraine – not Russia – attacked the U.S. 2016 election.

(Earlier one of today’s witnesses, Dr. Fiona Hill, publicly lambasted the spreading of the false Ukraine conspiracy theory as she sat just feet away from Nunes. The video is here.)

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

David Holmes blows up one of Trump’s key defenses in Ukraine extortion scheme

Published

on

David Holmes blew up one of the central arguments in the impeachment defense of President Donald Trump.

The president's Republican allies have argued that Ukraine was not aware that congressionally approved aid had been held up by the White House as Trump demanded an investigation of Joe Biden, but Holmes explained why that's wrong, reported the Washington Post.

Holmes, a political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, told congressional investigators that Ukrainian officials seemed to have figured out that the pause, which had been reported in late August by Politico, was related to Trump's call for an investigation.

Continue Reading
 
 

Happy Holidays!

As a special thank you from all of us at Raw, we're offering Raw Story ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. Now 'til Dec. 31st.
Offer Expires In:
close-link