Read all about it - the launch of the Facebook Journalism Project

Clarence Digital

24/02/17

Still trying to catch your breath after a whirlwind 2016? We don’t blame you, it was an action-packed 12 months to say the least! With the US Presidential Election, the war in Syria and a whole host of other global events dominating the news, it was hard to keep up with what was going on around the world.

The countless events of the past year also sparked a number of wide-ranging debates, particularly online, and this appears to have captured the interest of none other than social media powerhouses Facebook. 

Looking to tap into the huge levels of engagement as well as provide a platform for journalists on the ground to get information out, Mark Zuckerberg and co. this month announced the launch of the new Facebook Journalism Project.

The key aims of the Facebook Journalism Project

In a Newsroom post in early January, Director of Product Fidji Simo outlined the main aims and ambitions for the Journalism Project, with it being focused primarily on providing the tools and training for budding young reporters across the globe, as well as helping users decipher what news reports to trust.

After citing the importance of connectivity on Facebook, Simo claimed, “We will be collaborating with news organisations 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.”

The key essences of the Facebook Journalism Project centre around three key themes:

  • Collaborative development of news products – Facebook will now look to involve itself in the development of new means of getting information, taking a more active role than in previous collaborations. 
  • Training and tools for journalists – Journalists will now be able to go Live on behalf of the Facebook page of the organisation that they represent, which will be an important boost when it comes to covering major events. Administrators will be able to ‘designate’ individuals to go Live for them. Meanwhile, Facebook has also teamed up with Poynter to provide training for aspiring journalists on how to make the most of social media. It will include an accredited course and is set to rolled out in a further nine languages over the coming months.
  • Training and tools for everyone – Simo outlined Facebook’s ambition to provide everyday users with the key things they ought to be looking for when sourcing the information that they take on. A key step in this point is a collaboration with the News Literacy Project to put out a series of public service ads on the topic. This could be seen as something of a reaction to the recent ‘fake news’ scandal that rocked Facebook in late 2016.

Bad press has forced Facebook into looking at the Journalism Project

Facebook has endured something of a torrid relationship with other media outlets over the years, and it could be argued that this initiative is a way of smoothing things over and securing some positive media.

Even for a company as massive as Facebook, bad publicity and negative press can be damaging, particularly with the rapid growth of rivals such as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Indeed, Twitter has always been an outlet for staying up to date with current events, and Facebook’s efforts to be a source of news was always going to require going to greater efforts to convince people to stick with them.

Facebook is looking local

By making this public pledge to rid itself of fake news and build bridges with the media, as well as championing itself as a platform for aspiring journalists to be able to report efficiently, Facebook is looking to put itself at the forefront of the way we receive information. Whether it is successful remains to be seen, but it is a bold and interesting step by the California-based company.

However, others could also feel the benefit of this initiative. Facebook has announced that it will look towards new formats of getting stories across, and this could mean fresh new means of finding information for users. Meanwhile, there is likely to be increased support for local news content, which has often been neglected.

Facebook still dominates

For all the question marks and faults that have been attributed to Facebook, there is no denying that it remains the most influential and heavy-hitting social media platform available. In terms of sheer numbers, competitors don’t even come close to the 1.79 billion active users Facebook can boast of.

It’s decision to embrace the changing ways in which people get their news could prove to be hugely significant over the coming months and years, whilst the tools for journalists and regular users alike could have a big impact. Facebook has made its presence felt in news reporting. Watch this space.