social journalism

How Facebook Will Transform the News

Facebook has been making significant contributions to social journalism in recent months.  They have introduced Instant Articles, Facebook Mentions and Signal, all of which will enhance how news is created and how it is consumed.  This extraordinary company has the potential to profoundly change the world, as if they haven’t already.  Yet, some news organizations are screaming wolf, suggesting that Facebook has too much power.

What influences will Facebook bestow upon us over the next five years and will this help or hurt our established news organizations?

Facebook as a news organization

With Facebook’s interest in hosting news articles through their own site, rather than driving traffic to the website of the media outlet, rumors have surfaced that Facebook could possibly become its own news outlet.  It’s not a huge leap to think of a Facebook News department complete with writers, reporters, photojournalists, producers and editors.  They are already deliver and distribute the news, so curating it makes sense.

Perhaps a more fitting scenario of Facebook entering the new curation industry would be for the social network to acquire an established news publisher, like Forbes.  This kind of procurement would be aligned with Facebook’s known behavior having purchased companies like Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus.

While this probably isn’t a true focus of Facebook (more like Twitter), Facebook could better serve media outlets and news organizations, if they had first-hand experience with the industry’s biggest challenges.

Wearables and augmented reality

Wearables and virtual reality still seem a bit futuristic.  Sure, we have tastes and samplings of both including the Apple watch and Google Glasses.   However, Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus suggests that this type of technology could soon be a part of our everyday lives as well as our social experiences.

Mark Zuckerberg confirmed last year that the company was working on a new platform using augmented reality.  Augmented reality would augment a user’s vision using a wearable like a contact, so the user isn’t distracted by looking down at a smartphone.  Facebook is calling it a head-up experience.

There aren’t many details as to how this technology would be consumed in the daily lives of its users or how news organizations could capitalize upon it.  However, with increased use of live streams, one could argue that in the future, we will be able to assemble these live streams to experience any event first hand, as if we were there.

Messaging

Facebook Messenger allows users to send instant private messages to their friends and Facebook’s WhatsApp is already sending and receiving more messages than traditional SMS.  People want to share experiences and moments with their friends the way they do on social media but privately. This technology will continue to develop and new ways to message through photos and videos will emerge.

How will messaging affect the news?  With the amount of data Facebook has compiled on its users, it could predict which news stories are of interest to a specific person based on their behavior and location and send those directly using whatever platform comes next for messaging.

For me, it’s not a question of Facebook having too much power.  It is a reality that Facebook and other social media networks produce a greater awareness of what is happening in the world around us.

How a Social Profession Embraces Social Media

Journalism is a social profession.  From an interviewee to a source to your audience, reporting the news requires communicating with many people.  It’s a vocation of asking the right questions and really listening to what is being said.  It is a career built upon community.  Therefore, it’s completely logical that social media would be an ideal tool for this collaboration.

Newsroom culture is decisively evolving with a considerable emphasis on digital and social media.  Its not uncommon for traditional journalists to be resistant to implementing social media into their daily routine.  They often view it as a new technology rather than a medium of sharing information.  One way of overcoming newsroom opposition to social media is to show conventional reporters how these tools can make their job easier and more effective.   Here we look at three specific newsroom roles and how they can get the most benefit out of these powerful channels.

Foreign News Correspondent

A foreign news correspondent needs to report news from a country different from where their news organization is based.  This journalist can overcome geographic barriers as well as report the news at a rapid speed using a social platform such as Twitter.  They can easily reach millions of people around the world, find new sources to help develop stories and present their content in real time on this channel.

Clarissa Ward is a senior international news correspondent with CNN based in London.  Below is an example of how she uses Twitter to share information she gathered in Syria.  This particular post was retweeted 19 times so far.

Local Beat Editor

This type of journalist needs to reach out to their local community.   A platform like Facebook could be very beneficial for social listening and connecting a journalist their audience.  It can provide answers to “What is your community talking about right now?”, “What concerns do they have?”, and “What are they most interested in?”.  Social media can assist a local beat editor in getting to know their audience so they can better serve them.

Dayna Roselli, local news personality in Las Vegas, uses Facebook to interact with her community.  In this post, Dayna is introducing a new feature to KTNV’s website where viewers can upload surveillance video from their home to help police identify burglary suspects in the area.

Submit your surveillance or phone video to our NEW “Caught On Camera” section. You will be able to see what’s happening in your neighborhood! I explain how it all works in this video.

Posted by Dayna Roselli on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Television News Cameraman

A photojournalist could find many benefits in using social media to showcase visual images and video content.  They can give the audience a behind the scenes perspective or help them tell a story in a new way.  Channels such as Vine, Instagram and Periscope are becoming increasingly popular for reporters to share photos and videos.

Vines are extremely sharable and since they are only six seconds long, they can quickly be uploaded and shared via social media.  Here is a look at how one journalist used Vine to record the aftermath of a suicide bombing of a US Embassy in Turkey.

Sharing Smiles: Why These Publishers are the Most-Shareable on Facebook

Newswhip released their Most-Shared Publishers on Facebook rankings for October 2015.  The big three, who are often unchanged in their standings, were Buzzfeed.com, Huffingtonpost.com and Foxnews.com.  A string of hard news stories drove up the ranking of conservative news publishers while Halloween proved to be a big draw for sites publishing more topical content.

newswhip

Buzzfeed’s success in sharability often comes down to their offhand voice, casual tone and sparkling personality.   They use humor to attract readers attention and aren’t afraid to use expletives.  With over six million page likes, it’s not uncommon for their posts to be shared thousands of times within the first day.

adele

When skimming social media for entertainment, a classic Buzzfeed quiz is a seamless distraction.  While this type of post has basically no scholastic value, it is a fun and shareable piece of social content.

The Huffington Post provides a mix of entertainment and news.  They often poke fun at articles they share with their fans and have a sarcastic voice.  They cater to “internet lovers” and “news junkies” per their Facebook profile.

Fox News shares the hard news stories and is a leader in breaking news developments.  They share tons of photos and videos to complement their posts and they have a more traditional, if not conservative, news presence.

What each of these trailblazers has in common is that they are able to achieve an emotional connection with their audience.  They humanize their stories and use lists and loud headlines to break through the noise of a Facebook news feed.  These are all essential pieces of creating sharable content according to BufferSocial’s Garrett Moon.  Moon explained, “You can make a huge impact in the number of shares your post receives just by spending some extra time on the headline.”

fox

Some differences between these pages’ posts are whether they are promoting external links or their native articles.  Native posts are created and shared within the social channel you are using (Facebook).  For example, when posting a video, you can upload it to Facebook (native) or post a link to the video on YouTube (external).  Native videos tend to see more engagement and a higher share rate on Facebook.  Both Buzzfeed’s and Fox News’ biggest stories for October 2015 were native.

Still, posting external links is an important practice as it is known to optimize a site’s search engine optimization.  As explained in the Newswhip article, “Each of the top five publishers for October posted large amounts of external links, indicating that encouraging readers to visit a flagship website is still a primary aim,” (Duffy, 2015).

What I have learned from watching these three publishers is to keep your social media posts conversational.  When sharing information on social media, you are often triggering an emotion in your reader and hopefully sharing a smile.