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Introducing: The Facebook Journalism Project (fb.com)
97 points by ents on Jan 11, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 116 comments

This is sort of like Amazon announcing that it wants to strengthen its partnership with mom-and-pop shops, and help those mom-and-pop shops sell products in new and innovative ways.

I'm a former journalist who used to work for a metro daily newspaper that has long suffered, as most newspapers have, from declining ad revenue.

For these papers, the only reason to partner with Facebook is because they feel they have little choice. They would much rather have a healthy revenue stream and be self-sufficient.

But so far, the news industry has not found anything that adequately replaces the print-ad-driven business model that served it so well for so long.

So they're willing to try just about anything -- including, apparently, accepting a dinner invitation from a reputed cannibal.


I'm a back end dev at a small non-profit news org and it blows my mind how fast my employer wants us to integrate with FB instant articles and AMP without considering the consequences (AMP traffic staying in Google's network, etc.) Coming from a startup where our data was proprietary and execution meant everything, it feels weird sometimes that I get paid to make it as easy as possible for Google, FB, and others to access our content at scale (for free) while the news organization bears the infrastructure and engineering costs to do so.

These big companies aren't in this to help media companies, they've successfully commoditized content production and demanded news organizations to get with their program or get buried and forgotten.

Google, Facebook, etc, are marketing platforms. They are giving you marketing in exchange for content. It's equivalent to what you would've had to do in the past, which is pay somebody to go door to door selling your newspaper, giving out free copies of the newspaper. The free newspapers aren't your product, they're an ad for your product.

If you can't convert attention on Google/Facebook into your own ad revenue then you should stop purchasing advertising with content and you should focus on conversion.

AMP is ad network agnostic.

Content is free, not just from the amateurs, from the pros too. Laughing all the way to the bank. One of the reasons why MySpace was bought, but at the time it was already dying.

> But so far, the news industry has not found anything that adequately replaces the print-ad-driven business model that served it so well for so long.

I shell out of Nautilus and The Economist. The content is excellent and engaging. The access is reasonable. Ads are not obnoxious or intrusive.

It seems to me that there are perfectly functional models here...

The overall industry trends suggest that you're part of a tiny minority, so I don't think this model is an "adequate replacement" at present.

I don't think it needs to be an adequate replacement for the whole industry. Just the parts worth preserving.

> the only reason to partner with Facebook is because they feel they have little choice.

What? Can you explain what you mean? Newspapers have more choices than ever before. The only choice they don't have is one very specific business model: paper routes supported by classified ads.

Other than that, the world is your oyster. The periodicals industry is alive and well.

Interesting. Who is the reputed cannibal or was that said in jest?

It's used as a simile to anthropomorphize Facebook - FaceBook is like the cannibal that invites you, the business he's eating, over for dinner.

Facebook is the cannibal because it's eating the businesses of these newspapers

Facebook is the cannibal in this case I think.

I am currently tinkering with something that might help.

Basically you would "sell" your readers CPU/GPU time to us via a small JS-script embedded into your page to power ML/DL and scientific computation tasks (similar to BOINC). Thoughts?

It's a very interesting idea, but I see two hurdles to adoption:

1) Getting readers to consent. Oh, sure, they might unknowingly "consent" if it's buried in the TOS. They might even explicitly consent if you present them with a one-time consent form that implies it's making use of resources that would otherwise be idle. But then their laptop starts to heat up every time they visit the site. If they leave the tab open, other apps appear sluggish. Eventually, they're going to notice that they're not actually giving away something that has no cost to them. It's more like loaning someone your car when it would otherwise sit parked in your driveway. Eventually you're going to notice wear on your car, and an empty gas tank.

2) Digital advertising revenue is insufficient, by a significant margin, to replace print-ad revenue. I would expect the revenue from this type of arrangement to be low enough that it doesn't solve the problem, but only stems the tide a bit. Perhaps some publishers would be willing to invest the time to integrate with this, even if it's a comparatively low revenue stream. But I think most publishers are investing most of their energy looking for the true game changer: a business model that can actually sustain their business.

Reminds me of the hackathon project made by MIT students. It was the same idea but it would mine BTC instead of doing ML in Javascript.

Site archive here: https://web.archive.org/web/20140425180831/http://tidbit.co....

To be honest if I had a dead simple way to pay a few cents to read an article I would do it for a number of publications. But I'm not willing to signup individually to each one.

Google's Contributor


From Wikipedia:

Google Contributor is a program run by Google that allows users in the Google Network of content sites to view the websites without any advertisements that are administered, sorted, and maintained by Google.


Seems like https://flattr.com is what you are looking for. It's a shame it isn't integrated widely.

The thing I don't line is that it's still very active instead of passive. I've been using rescue time to track time wasting. it'd be great to have a if there was something similar that presented the places I went and percentage of time I spent there with my budget spread accordingly.

Ideally with some kind of black list or white list feature.

That CPU time is worth approximately nothing, and in particular it's worth less than the energy that it consumes.

Why would I pay x$ per unit of capacity on random people's computers when I could get the same compute capacity for less on a cloud provider? I feel like overhead + your cut would make it inefficient.

Is there anything Zuckerberg doesn't want to get his company involved with?

It's been said on HN again and again, but I'm really looking forward to a decentralized digital publishing platform that gains momentum and actually gives Facebook a run for its money.

Anyone know of any such existing platforms up and running now? Last I looked into this, I discovered "Steemit", but it doesn't seem very promising.

> It's been said on HN again and again, but I'm really looking forward to a decentralized digital publishing platform that gains momentum and actually gives Facebook a run for its money.

I don't think one has a chance of succeeding in the short term IMO. Diaspora, GNU social are attempts. They all are on the wrong side of the network effect / Metcalfe's law. There would need to be a significant downside to using facebook or a significant upside to using the competition to get people to move. I don't think there are much incentives to be had there.

>Is there anything Zuckerberg doesn't want to get his company involved with?

I've seen quite a few comments (on HN and elsewhere) since all the "fake news" buzz started saying essentially "Facebook needs to stop pretending they aren't a news company. They are where people get their news, and they need to take responsibility for that"

And I completely agree. Whether zuck wants to be in the news business or not, he already is. Might as well do a good job of it.

>And I completely agree. Whether zuck wants to be in the news business or not, he already is. Might as well do a good job of it.

No, they're not. Facebook is a news aggregate. They are no more in the News business than I would be if I wrote a script to scrape news web sites for articles to read myself.

The confusion between actual news sources and information aggregates online has caused this "fake news" crisis in the first place.

I agree. Their main product is called "News" Feed, after all.


6,000+ publishing partners around the world (USA Today, Washington Post, The Guardian, Le Monde, Newsweek, Bloomberg Businessweek, Vogue, GQ, etc.) Unlimited access model, all you can read on your smartphone or tablet.

Two business models: (1) Consumer subscription ($29.95USD/mo) (2) Sponsored by a business (stay at one of 10,000+ hotels who sponsor PressReader access for their guests, fly with airlines like Qantas, visit a local library that sponsors access, etc.)

Millions of MAUs and growing at light speed.

Business model: royalties paid to publishers whenever someone reads their content, so generates revenue and audience for publishers.

(Full disclosure: I work for PressReader.)

Old stuff I remember that used to live on the internets: mIRC, BBS, Usenet groups, Online Chat, Forums

Oh, yea. How could I forget? I still use IRC on a daily basis... I don't think of it as a place to read news, though.

I get back on once in awhile just to see if people are going back. I'm wondering if any network is growing besides Freenet. Freenet is cool, and I get on for work once in awhile. But I really miss when Undernet and Dalnet where massive, with all sorts of stuff happening. Maybe I'm just out of touch with what the active networks are.

Maybe that's the future, going back eventually to alternative places where the user can have a separate identity and speak their opinions (I.e. Redddit)

I mean, there's always RSS, but that's always had the issue of adoption.

Is Steemit just a Reddit clone with the blockchain buzzword sprinkled on?

>decentralized digital publishing platform

Like the internet?

I'm sure this will be used for censoring political groups, and alternative media. As mainstream news sources become less popular / reputable they have really started pushing for methods to censor their opposition.

Exactly. Yesterday was a great example of mainstream sources losing credibility.

They were all over the (as far as I know) totally unverified document that an intelligence agency decided to leak to Buzzfeed for some reason.

They wonder why no one trusts them anymore...

Except they did not leak it to Buzzfeed, it was not compiled by any of the intelligence agencies, multiple media companies were in possession of the report and the report was not confidential in any way either. While there at least yet is no concrete proof about the claims, the intelligence agencies took it seriously enough to look into it and brief the current and upcoming presidents.

So tell me again how they lost credibility by reporting the story as it is.

The mainstream media did a fine job. Your criticism is completely misplaced.

The New York Times, CNN, Guardian etc all reported the verified facts. Which is that a report was produced by an ex-MI6 spy looking into allegations that Russia had amongst others compromising video involving prostitutes/golden showers and President Elect Trump. This report was obtained by John McCain and passed to the FBI for verification. They didn't publish the report. They didn't publish the allegations. The presence and gist of the report is newsworthy because the spy in question has by all accounts impeccable credentials which McCain and the CIA/FBI made statements about. That is all they reported.

BuzzFeed were the ones who decided to publish the report and all of the above organisations heavily criticised them for it afterwards questioning their ethics etc.

Compare 'peegate' with 'pizzagate'. On the latter, the mainstream media wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole (rightly so), because so much was pure speculation from internet neckbeards and trolls (to use affectionate terms).

With the former, we have the press doing the job of internet trolls, shoveling serious allegations with absolutely zero evidence given.

Through a political lens it makes perfect sense, it's very sad, and I can't trust anything the main stream media tells me anymore. They've lost me forever unless there's a serious 'come to jesus' moment and they confess their bias and rectify it.

>They didn't publish the report. They didn't publish the allegations.

That just makes it worse, doesn't it? The actual allegations are so insane it's obvious they're fake. By hiding them, they make it appear credible.

Wait, what?

So if they do publish the report (ie, Buzzfeed) then they get blamed for publishing false news.

If they report that the report was published, they get blamed for making it appear credible

I'll also point out that if they don't report things they get accused of being involved in a cover up.

What do you propose here exactly?

I don't see why Buzzfeed are being criticised for it either, because they only reported verified facts - that the report was going around, that it was neither verified or falsified, that it contained errors and falsehoods. I imagine the others are just annoyed Buzzfeed jumped first when they all had it so they're criticising them.

Wouldn't pushing a story that was "neither verified or falsified", be considered "fake news", by some definition?

"By some definition", sure. I have no idea what the definition of fake news is (I just made a comment saying I have no idea what it is at this point), but I expect that some definitions being used would include buzzfeed yep.

Fake news means that the story was deliberately made up. Nobody did that in this case.

The report was verified to be written by the ex-MI6 spy. The claims in the report are what are yet to be verified.

The fact that mainstream journalists are caught letting political operatives write their articles for them doesn't help their credibility either. Oh, and they're of course silent when it comes to reporting on their own corruption.

It reminds me of that clip of CNN saying that we could only get the Wikileaks emails through their interpretation, and we shouldn't be reading them ourselves.

...turns out it was because they were implicated in them.


CNN is so corrupt it looks like a parody network.

Their most egregious breach of ethics to date: On October 31, 2016, the New York Times reported: "CNN has severed ties with the Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, after hacked emails from WikiLeaks showed that she shared questions for CNN-sponsored candidate events in advance with friends on Hillary Clinton's campaign." CNN said it had accepted her formal resignation on October 14, adding: "We are completely uncomfortable with what we have learned about her interactions with the Clinton campaign while she was a CNN contributor."

Donna Brazile shared questions with the candidates and CNN promptly terminated her position.

What exactly did CNN do wrong here ? By your definition every company that has a employee who makes an egregious mistake is corrupt.

To be fair, it wasn't just Brazile. CNN is caught multiple times in the leaked emails collaborating directly with the DNC. Examples include asking for questions from the DNC to ask during the Republican debate, vetting Wolf Blizter's questions for Trump through the DNC. Brazile was just setup to take the fall since she had feet in both CNN and the DNC.

If this was an isolated case I'd give them the benefit of the doubt, but then there's also stuff like this, where they literally say it's illegal for you to possess the leaked emails but it's OK for the media: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DcATG9Qy_A

You are talking in such generalities it makes absolutely no sense. The media is not a single company.

You can't just say everyone is corrupt simply because on one specific day from one specific publication they failed to report their own corrupt behaviour.

Why are you lot so reflexively opposed to anything related to journalism, even when explicitly aimed to help alternative media? It certainly doesn't make it look like you just want people to get news from more sources.

People, and hackers especially, generally don't "trust" Facebook to provide them with a platform to publish anymore. And why would they? Facebook will never open source the software responsible for determining what, when, and how people see news articles.

How is Facebook, known to be biased[1] is going to "help alternative media"? This looks like a power play to regain smeared credibility under the guise of "people's platform".

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/05/09/fo...

How do you draw the line between "alternative media" and "lies"?

I could ask how you draw the line between "mainstream media" and "lies" just as easily and just as poignantly. The answer is easy in both cases. When they lie, it's a lie. When they don't, it's not.

because "mainstream media" like nyt and wapo have well respected, educated journalists working around the clock to research stories and find evidence whereas "alternative media" is a guy in his moms basement making up stories. just as with science, people only dispute it when it goes against their own interests.

Sometimes "alternative media" is something like the Intercept, full of pulitzer-prize winning journalists who present a view contrary to the political establishment and are adversarial with respect to those in power, in sharp contrast to the "mainstream" NYT and wapo who are essentially government stenographers when it comes to much of their coverage -- they tell us what "a government source" has told them to tell the public without a critical eye or examination. If they dared print real criticism, they would lose their access or funding.

Sometimes it's Democracy Now!, a long-running counterculture mainstay that again presents an adversarial view and touches on subjects the mainstream media never would -- finding out about the Dakota Access Pipeline issue and reporting in depth months before the mainstream media deigned to grace it with even a moment of coverage.

Sometimes it's Breitbart. In those cases you are correct but 'alternative media' is an umbrella term that just means 'any group of people who do not behave as a mouthpiece for the political and economic elites'.

After the Telecommunications act of 1996 media has massively consolidated. At this point the 'mainstream media' refers to the media owned by those same 6 extremely powerful megacorporations that control all 'approved' 'serious' discussion. Alternative media means any alternate view.

That's quite an oversimplification. Your characterization of the alternative media is sometimes right (except that they're usually not making up stories -- they're usually summarizing stories produced by regular journalists, often with an editorial overlay). But there are also alternative media sources doing real research and investigative journalism, like Democracy Now! and the Intercept.

On the other hand, the biggest, most respected of the mainstream publications, the NYT and the WaPo, have permanently tainted themselves by acting as stenographers for US government disinformation campaigns -- most notably in the run-up to the Iraq war, when they consistently promoted the fake WMD story.

The Iraq War happened well over a decade ago. And the New York Times et al all did internal reviews of their behaviour and made substantive changes.

From Morning Joe, this morning, you can already see that the New York Times has learnt lessons from that era: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaI0u0ZdpMg

So the idea that they should still after all this time be permanently tainted is ridiculous and frankly is just an excuse by those who have different political persuasions.

Maybe a decade seems like a long time to you; not to me. I may just be old. But I also never saw any documentation about those internal reviews and substantive changes -- I would like to see them. From an outsider's perspective, however, it doesn't look like anything has changed.

Cokie Roberts is still employed, for example /snark

perhaps, but in today's political climate i think its a fair simplification. the vast majority of people take argue your side to mean that PizzaGate is real and that NYT stories critical of trump are all fake.

You shouldn't censor lies. You should prove that they are lies.

[EDIT] (just to add something to my post)

If you delete/ommit/censor lies youd end up with:

a) If every lie is removed, maybe everything that was removed is a lie. Which is not true.

b) You end up with a "cry wolf situation", which may blow up hardly on facebook. You don't "cry wolf". You show that the wolf is there. Otherwise, the first time you screw up, you will lose all credibility.

But people don't believe proof that a lie is a lie - see the entire Trump phenomena. All he has to do is Tweet "fake news," and people won't believe any attempts to rationalize.

Just because it doesn't work perfectly it doesn't mean we shouldn't do the right thing.

To me, the ends don't justify the means.

There's this old saying: "You can't prove a negative". It's wrong in that you often can indeed prove a negative, but the idea is still useful. Example: What would it take to conclusively proof that I never killed anybody vs. that I did? For the former, you'd basically need a continuous video feed from my birth.

(b) "hardly" means something other than what you're thinking. No worries, many Russians make that mistake when speaking english.

It's simple! If you want to believe it, it's "alternative media," and if you don't it's a filthy lie.

To borrow the sentiment from Tim Minchin: if alternate news media was news it would just be called news.

"Fake News" put some egg on their face and they're scrambling to find a way to censor alternative news.

I'm interested to see where the local news initiative goes. Big outlets have plenty of room to innovate with or without Facebook's help, but newspapers outside of state capitals seem to be in a difficult position of falling subscriptions and no way to replace that revenue online.

The local news piece was by far the most interesting to me as well. Until recently, nearly all journalists got their starts in local news, and as Facebook correctly notes, it has the advantage of focusing on stories that actually impact the intended audience's day to day life. Also, since the readers are often closer to the actual events, players, and issues described, it's arguable that the readers are less susceptible to the opinion disguised as reporting that typifies much of partisan, new media (although I'll admit that this is arguable at best, and assumes that the readers actually want their reporting to be factual).

My personal social media experience at Nextdoor (which is focused completely on the local), and I know this is anecdotal, is that that a lot of the people cut out the big, over-dramatically sweeping hyperbolic politics when the topic / scope of conversation is more localized in nature. At least, I mostly see reports on the neighborhood, events and complaints, services advertisements, etc. People have opinions, of course, but its not the binary hyperbolic type stuff that personifies too much of national politics (and sadly tends to leak over on too many Facebook posts).

(From this viewpoint, I'd see a model like Nextdoor an easier fit for a local news initiative... Facebook's scope just seems too global at first glance for them to do a very good job.)

I am curious about your conclusion that some newspapers in state capitals are doing OK with subscriptions. Can you say more about which specific state capitals and newspapers you see as thriving? What do you see as different that is making newspapers in state capitals succeed where those in other cities are struggling?

Not the parent, but I think it just means some cities are big enough markets to support a locally-focused newspaper but most smaller cities and towns aren't. It's no secret that local papers are dying but for example the Philadelphia Inquirer is still around.

Exactly. Yes, the big papers are less profitable than before, but however much the LA Times complains about adblock they're not going out of business. My hometown paper, on the other hand, is having trouble affording to have the full staff of journalists they used to maintain, and hiring someone to modernize their online presence may be out of reach.

Notably absent:

Any mention of compensating the "participants" that Facebook is, I'd wager, pitching behind-the-scenes as a gigantic pool of free talent / labor ripe for monetization both as advertising targets and content generators!

Disclosure: I'm on Medium and don't get paid diddly for my writings on there, nor spend much of any time investing in the Facebook ecosystem because it reminds me too much of AOL.

I'd imagine that in a pay-per-whatever, traditional news orgs aren't going to beat clickbait trash orgs. They talked about trying to help the news orgs subscription funnel, which seems a better solution.

This will not work, because the problem is not a lack of "news literacy," the problem is confirmation bias.

I get it, fake news is a problem because a new product is coming to solve the 'problem' of fake news.

I wonder if the product will be a revamp of the old Facebook paper/reader-app ("all your contents are belong to us")

honestly though I don't think FB/Zuck is quite so cynical yet

Facebook wants to solidify being a content portal for news. Its competition is Google with AMP, Google and other search engines without AMP, and first-party content producers, and 'orthodox news aggregators'. Both Facebook and Google have an advantage: they have hyperlocal info and tons of data on users collected through their tracking and ad networks, they are two of the most-visited websites and most-used apps in the world; meanwhile they subsume all the advantages of an old-style news aggregator by having a wide variety of third-party content they never had to pay for.

'Emerging business models': Facebook is a large IdP containing identities that they monetize through data mining with the goal of display ads. But this IdP allows their users to log in to other sites and engage in microtransaction-like behavior. Aside from making actual payments to FB, users could trade off 'ad credits' or whatnot. Flattr, Webpass are in this space; Google tried this with Contributor [1], which is about to see a revamp; Brendan Eich is trying this with Brave, but Facebook's install base and ability to focus and deliver means they could probably pull this off better than everyone else.

[1] https://www.slightfuture.com/blog/google-contributor-no-new-...

There's a continuing thread through these 'fake news' and 'new journalism' discussions, namely that there is a need for express interference in information circulation. This is premised upon the notion that there is a defect in circulation, but little discussion of the actual details of that circulation, its aims, and its qualities. The result is a discussion which has no direction, buffetted to and fro by the winds of self-interested parties.

Is there any appetite to begin a multi-disciplinary conversation about what constitutes an effective conversation? I feel as if there's disconnect here, one that leaves us all poorer, if only intellectually, as a result.

Oh come on, everyone and their mom knows Fakebook is the prime peddler of corporate and government bullshit; smearing more lip stick on that pig changes nothing.

I think this can only be positive. The status quo now is that real journalism is dying while clickbait nonsense makes makes money. If Facebook can work with traditional news agencies, whose strengths are their rigorous fact checking and journalistic integrity, to help them monetize more effectively then everyone wins.

I love this. I don't think FB is the stream of consciousness feed it once was. So why not embrace a new use case: A one stop news shop for both micro & macro news!

Here's a big punchline buried in this release: crowdtangle is now free. That's $30k value (+/- number of seats) given away to struggling news organizations.

It would be amazing if FB was to try & use sentiment analysis to offer opposite stories for every issue. Maybe that would help people to see more sides to an issue.

It still doesn't change the fact that news orgs universally lack the time to conduct real journalism -- fake news is a direct result of reducing the time that journalists have to vet and verify content.

Frankly I'm quite happy about "fake news" proliferating, it makes obvious how hopeless and useless news orgs are. They peddle claptrap and tripe with reckless abandon.

Facebook could throw ten thousand engineers at the problem and 1) it wouldn't fix that nobody trusts Facebook 2) it wouldn't fix that nobody trusts news orgs. Fox News' "Fair and Balanced" slogan needs to taken as religious dogma -- everybody gets as voice and Facebook has no say in who can't speak.

To any news tweeps reading: combating "fake news" by partnering with Facebook is a partisan attempt at self-fellatio -- all you do is get yourself off without accomplishing anything. Conduct real journalism with well-paid staff that have the time to do their job and anonymously share it with the public is the only way to restore trust, not 1) procuring access to high-value talking heads (eg: celebrities, pundits, "experts") that will regurgitate your propaganda or 2) shoving out unverified garbage (eg: 99% of reporting on Trump this past election cycle) at light-speed.

#1 is just a sad attempt at remaining relevant while having someone authoritative make an empty appeal to viewers and #2 is plain laziness.

What do you mean by fake news?

It seems to have started out as actual made up news by organisations/people/websites pretending to be news organisations, but actually just making things up - eg. The pope endorsing Trump story and I'm sure loads more on both sides.

Then some professor published his list of fake news sites, and included a bunch of conservative media sites as well as satire as well as obvious fake news, there's probably some liberal legitimate media sites there too.

Then after Trump won conservatives started saying every liberal media site had been peddling fake news when they reported polls etc had him way down and Hillary was winning.

I've probably missed a load more things but my point is, I have no idea what fake news is at this point - but I do know that at least some of it isn't a result of a lack of time by legitimate journalists, some of it is just people making stuff up.

Personally, I'd argue the following to be "fake news"

* Completely made-up

* Kernel of truth with context completely removed (see far-Right, far-Left, and sensationalist papers)

That leaves quite a bit of partisan news in the gray-but-OK zone, including several partisan sites that seem to solely exist to signal boost the most embarrassing and negative news of their opponents.

Perhaps the most clever thing, that you note, is the far-fringe groups are now calling the center Mainstream Media "fake news" as well. Which is the height of clever co-opting to me.

EDIT: formatting

Fake news should only really refer to the type of news that was generated from the kids in Eastern Europe i.e. completely made up with zero truth behind it.

Unfortunately fake news has come to mean "news that I disagree with".

Like today when Trump tweeted that the BuzzFeed story was fake news even though there was nothing fake about it. Just that the claims were as yet unverified.

There's plenty of fake news on both sides. It's amazing to me that people can be so far up their ass to no not notice that.

> Coler's company, Disinfomedia, owns many faux news sites — he won't say how many. But he says his is one of the biggest fake-news businesses out there, which makes him a sort of godfather of the industry.

> Coler says his writers have tried to write fake news for liberals — but they just never take the bait.


>> Coler says his writers have tried to write fake news for liberals — but they just never take the bait.

If you see this and your bias alarm isn't going crazy, then it needs some heavy readjustment.

> Conduct real journalism with well-paid staff that have the time to do their job

I can guarantee you that every single editor in the country would like to have well-paid staff who have the time to do their job well.

And if you can come up with a business model to make it happen, well then I am willing to dub you the savior of the news industry.

But absent any suggestions about how news organizations can actually accomplish this, your comment is basically just kicking them while they're down.

Hilariously enough one company has a business model that is working: BuzzFeed.

They have been using the money raised from their clickbait business to operate BuzzFeed News. Which actually is a very distinct unit containing highly respected, award winning journalists who work on old school, long form journalism.

Example: https://www.buzzfeed.com/chrishamby/super-court

and in exchange they have turned their name to trash. I know they do are doing some quality work and I still feel a bit dirty clicking on an article from buzzfeed.

I don't mind kicking them when they're down, news org editors are some of the most vile scum of the earth. They have no shame about peddling garbage.

Unless they make a sincere effort to restore trust by reporting the news instead of trying to shape society by controlling the narrative then I will happily dig their grave. At this point there is no news org I rank higher than Reddit comments -- it's all a stream of piss coming from partisan hacks.

As for business model suggestions, my only suggestion is cut the crap. They can either subject themselves to the indignity of peddling garbage to make money thereby destroying their credibility or they can procure a staff of well-read and well-written folks that have a history of neutrality.

Partnering with FB is a one-way trip to the former while the latter is a logical impossibility, news orgs inevitably stoop to partisan nonsense. Either report the news and don't get scared about alienating your ad sponsors/viewers or you peddle garbage to make money.

I used to be a news editor. I guess I should consider myself vile scum as well?

The major difficulty traditional local newspapers have faced over the past two decades is this downward cycle:

10 Revenue declines.

20 Cost reductions are needed. First, you trim operational expenses, but eventually, you need to reduce head count.

30 With fewer reporters and editors available, you either overwork the remaining staff, leading to burnout, increased turnaround, and a reduction in quality, or you reduce coverage.

40 Either way, subscribers notice an inferior product. They're getting less than what they used to get, either in terms of quality or breadth of coverage (and likely both).

50 Subscribers cancel their subscription.

60 GOTO 10

So now we arrive at a catch 22. The product is not going to improve in quality unless a lot of people are willing to pay for it, and a lot of people (such as yourself) aren't going to be willing to pay for it unless the quality markedly improves.

I wonder if it might be possible for newspapers to get around this problem by doing a Kickstarter-like conditional pledging campaign. Basically, you have people commit to buying a subscription, but only if a high enough threshold of other people also commit. Then it becomes a win-win. If the campaign reaches its threshold, then everyone involved can feel pretty confident that it generates enough revenue to bump up the quality (assuming the newspaper is actually committed to doing that). And if it fails to reach the threshold, then you're not out any money for an inferior product.

> The major difficulty traditional local newspapers have faced over the past two decades is this downward cycle

IIRC, It's more like 4-5 decades, and while the cycle is approximately correct for the positive feedback loop now running, it didn't, as I recall, actually start with declining revenues, it started with a wave of newspaper mergers (and acquisition of newspapers by non-newspaper firms) and attempts to increase profits after those mergers by reducing costs, which got you to the step you label "20", and the cycle took off from there.

I have a difficult time envisioning what sort of journalism you expect. Is investigative reporting okay? Are opinion pieces off limits? Are government sources acceptable, or should they be excluded? What about business owners speaking on matters about which they're likely to have conflicts of interest?

Don't bother. It's pure confirmation bias.

People like this are just looking for an excuse to ignore all of the mainstream media so that they can plot their own path. Nothing respected organisations can do would change their mind. Unfortunately this path is how we ended up with PizzaGate.

> Frankly I'm quite happy about "fake news" proliferating, it makes obvious how hopeless and useless news orgs are.

It feels incredibly reductive to group "news orgs" together like this. It's not as if they are all on the same level. Yet, all suffer from the erosion of trust in news media, no matter how good their work might be. Any if they all dies, what replaces them exactly? I'm yet to see anything close to a compelling model (especially from Silicon Valley).

> 1) it wouldn't fix that nobody trusts Facebook

If only that were true. So many people do trust Facebook, and absolutely believe everything they read on it, including blatantly false "news."

It still doesn't change the fact that news orgs universally lack the time to conduct real journalism

It doesn't change it because it's not a fact, let alone a universal one

fake news is a direct result of reducing the time that journalists have to vet and verify content.

No it isn't. "Fake news" is not a synonym for "shoddy journalism" - it's not journalism at all but a deliberate attempt to mislead.

It doesn't have to be deliberate but it can be completely unintentional. Let's take a look at the latest rumor mongering about Trump -- many news orgs have happily reported that intelligence agencies have evidence of Watergate-level wrongdoing and they've thrown in sexual deviancy for good measure, but all of it is unsubstantiated.

I'd expect reputable news orgs to not touch the issue until we see public statements by public officials but they're talking it up like no tomorrow. This is fake news and it qualifies just as well as shoddy journalism.

It doesn't have to be deliberate but it can be completely unintentional.

That's not what 'fake news' means.

many news orgs have happily reported that intelligence agencies have evidence of Watergate-level wrongdoing and they've thrown in sexual deviancy for good measure

No reputable news organization has reported that. I understand how you can be unhappy with the state of journalism but your arguments are not helped in any way by you inventing 'facts', redefining terms or completely misrepresenting reporting.

Actually, lots of people trust what they read on Facebook. They shouldn't, but they do.

> Fox News' "Fair and Balanced" slogan needs to taken as religious dogma...

I think I agree with most of what you're trying to get across in your post here, but the reference to Fox News is throwing me off. Followed to the letter, being 'fair and balanced' is certainly something that should be aspired to, but Fox's use of it as a slogan has always been a complete joke. Fox's interpretation of 'fair and balanced' is hardly any better than than the 'fake news' alternative.

upvoted your comment, but obviate does not mean "to make obvious."

Introducing: The Facebook Censoring Project

Fine line between censorship and moderation.

I read this as if Facebook is posing itself to become kind of a "Journalism PaaS". That'd be an interesting shift.

>Local news is the starting place for great journalism.

Not in my experience.

Just in time!

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