PETER HUTCHISON –
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 on 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.”
It comes as the US media landscape is plagued by job losses and newspaper closures, with organisations 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, said.
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 organisation that makes major editorial decisions, and this announcement does little to change that, experts add. “It’s not transformative because it’s not going to change necessarily the behaviour 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.
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.
“Our goal with the news tab is to provide a personalised, highly relevant experience for people,” Facebook head of news partnerships Campbell Brown said in San Francisco on Tuesday.
The news tab feature comes as Facebook embarks on a series of initiatives to boost journalism, with traditional media organisations accusing it of benefiting financially from their hard work.
Internet platforms are dominating the Internet advertising space making it difficult for established news organisations to transition what were very profitable print advertisements online. — AFP
PETER HUTCHISON –