Can Facebook save journalism and bring it into the digital age?

Can Facebook save journalism and bring it into the digital age?
  1. Can Facebook save journalism and bring it into the digital age?
    Facebook is trying to teach journalists how to thrive in the digital age but also tackle the scourge of fake news. The key lies in helping users tell the difference between truth and lie. The post Can Facebook save journalism and bring it into the digital age? appeared first on Silicon…

Facebook is trying to teach journalists how to thrive in the digital age but also tackle the scourge of fake news. The key lies in helping users tell the difference between truth and lie.

As self-proclaimed authorities on everything specialised generalists, or (ahem) journalists, don’t like being told how to suck eggs.

But, at the same time, those in the media who owe their longevity to being adaptable and rolling with the changes actually relish every opportunity to learn new things. And that’s a metaphor for any profession or trade to thrive in the 21st century.

‘Education, not just algorithms, critical thinking and helping people know the difference between truth and lie will be key to the future of media’

Yesterday, Facebook introduced what it calls The Facebook Journalism Project, a new kind of platform designed to create a healthy news ecosystem where journalism can thrive.

The project aims to work in three ways: creating new news products, training and tools for journalists and training and tools for everyone else who uses Facebook.

In terms of new news products, Facebook is finally realising that it is now the front page of the internet and people are using their phones and computers to get news rather than buying newspapers.

In essence, Facebook is part of the problem facing the news industry but it finally recognises it is also part of the solution.

The social network plans to forge deeper collaborations with news organisations and equip journalists with new storytelling tools that are already beginning to proliferate such as Live Video, Instant Articles and more.

The Local News component is vital because all real journalism careers start with local news; it is where you can gauge the beating heart of people, join the conversation on issues that matter the most to people and once again, Facebook is the front page more than ever for local news in communities all over the world.

Where hacker culture meets hack culture

Where the Facebook Journalism project could get tricky is where Facebook intends to mix engineering with journalism through efforts like hackathons, which culturally could be a little like mixing oil with water. But if the engine can be fine-tuned, it is worth trying.

The future of journalism could, for example, require journalists and data scientists or software developers collaborating to tell stories through data visualisation.

Facebook also intends to provide training and tools for journalists through e-learning courses that are certifiable as well as training at scale for newsrooms through collaborations with various colleges in the US.

It also intends to release new tools to help journalists and editors surface stories, measure performance and identify influencers.

“We’ve seen that journalists are using Facebook Live to find and share news, and connect with their audiences,” explained Fidji Simo, director of product at Facebook.

“We’re now building more tools to help journalists use Live to report and discover news as easily as possible. Today, we’re launching the ability for Page administrators to designate specific journalists as contributors, giving them the ability to go live on behalf of the Page, a change designed to make such reporting more flexible for newsrooms. In the future, we also want to bring to Profiles all the flexibility that the Live API provides to Pages, so journalists can use their professional equipment to go live. And, we’re now going to offer journalists a simple way to see how their public videos are performing on their Facebook profiles.”

Facebook is also recognising the rise of citizen journalism and the fact that everyone is carrying smartphones that can capture important news events through what it calls “eyewitness media.”

The social network is a member of the First Draft Partner Network, a coalition of platforms and 80+ publishers, that works together to provide practical and ethical guidance in how to find, verify and publish content sourced from the social web.

The scourge of fake news requires a special focus

The fake news issue that arose in the wake of the US presidential elections was a wake-up call not only for Facebook but for every user to think critically about what appears in their News Feed.

Mark Zuckerberg’s initial dismissal of suggestions that fake news could in any way have influenced voters as “a pretty crazy idea” prompted a backlash within Facebook, mostly from engineers, who realise and appreciate the cultural footprint the social network is making.

From denial to acceptance and then action, the new measures correctly assume that for journalism to thrive on the 1.6bn-strong social network it requires training for everyone, not just media.

This involves promoting greater news literacy among ordinary users to help them identify sources of information that they can trust.

As part of Facebook’s efforts to combat fake news, the company recently said it is testing a new notification and reporting system designed to tackle fake news websites.

Facebook said it is working with third-party fact checking organisation…

Tags: #Facebook
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