New year brings new news for Facebook with unveiling of its Journalism Project

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The new year is bringing a new news approach for Facebook. Less than a week after hiring CNN host Campbell Brown to lead the social media giant’s News Partnerships team, Facebook is shaking things up again.

On January 11, Fidji Simo, the company’s director of product, unveiled The Facebook Journalism Project, “a new program to establish stronger ties between Facebook and the news industry.” Chances are Brown will be working closely with this team, as she noted last week that she’d be joining the team to “help news organizations and journalists work more closely and more effectively with Facebook.”

The Project promises a three-pronged approach to news on Facebook. First of all, Simo explained, there will be “collaborative development of news products,” which means connecting Facebook’s product and engineering teams to create new storytelling formats, local news, emerging business models for Facebook publishers, and more. Moreover, Facebook says it will “keep sponsoring important journalism and publishing conferences, including the Digital Content Next conference in January and the Perugia Festival of Journalism this spring.”

Facebook also promises to provide new training and tools for journalists, including a new series of elearning courses on Facebook products, tools, and services meant specifically for members of the media. These training activities will be expanded to include nine additional languages.

As for tools, the social network announced that CrowdTangle, which can be used to “surface stories, measure their social performance, and identify influencers,” will be made free for all Facebook’s news partners. Facebook is also stepping up its commitment to live, firsthand news accounts with improvements to Facebook Live.

Finally, it’s not just journalists who will benefit from the Journalism Project. Rather, Simo wrote, “As we seek to support journalism, we will also be working on new ways to help give people information so they can make smart choices about the news they read — and have meaningful conversations about what they care about.”

That means helping to promote news literacy both on and off Facebook to help users “have the information they need to make decisions about which sources to trust.” In the same vein, Facebook promises to continue its attempts to tamp down on fake news.

“This is just the beginning of our effort on that front — we have much more to do,” Simo concluded, “The Facebook Journalism Project Page will serve as a hub for our efforts to promote and support journalism on Facebook, and we’ll update you on our initiatives here.”


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