Can Facebook Save Journalism By Serving As A Media Depot?

In the digital age, sites like Facebook have an important role in the sharing of news. It has been thought that Facebook’s role in media could be a dangerous one which caused social media users to look to FB for news rather than the various news sites. This is reportedly causing a decrease in the media companies’ readership. But the numbers have proven that Facebook has actually helped draw readers to various new sites.

Recently, Facebook has been having private talks with news sites to make a deal on just how big of a role FB can play in the distributing and sharing of news content. The idea was that it would be much more effective on both sides if FB users could log onto the site and have all the trending news right there on their FB timeline. With 1.4 billion users, it is predicted that this plan could change the current “failing” status of modern journalism.

With every great idea comes a series of oppositions; the first in the case of Facebook as a news depot came from journalist David Carr who feels that this plan is a bad idea. He explained that FB acting as a host for news sites would turn them into “serfs in a Kingdom that Facebook owns,” in other words, Facebook could take all power away from the media companies.

The issue with this idea is not simply that Facebook could assume ownership of the news content but that it could manipulate the content. What happens when the journalist no longer has control of the story? Or worse, what if Facebook creates an agenda to wash over the news and only feature gossip or other trending topics? Because of the large amount of Facebook users who use the social media site as a primary source of information, a lot of people will be left in the dark about important world matters.

This idea of FB as a news depot can become more frightening when the list of media companies who are involved is considered. According to the New York Times, the publication itself has joined National Geographic, Buzzfeed and others in the new Facebook media venture. Then, there is the subject of revenue to consider as well.

Edward Kim, chief executive of SimpleReach has gathered data which shows that this entire deal may serve Facebook a lot better than it will the media companies. In fact, Kim found that it is more likely that these companies will lose money rather than make it. According to Edward Kim, the traffic that each media company gets on their site comes predominantly from social media outlets like Facebook.

“But there are a lot of implications for publishers. It really comes down to how Facebook structures this, and how they can ensure this is a win on both sides.”

If Facebook is hosting the actual article, rather than the link, that means no revenue for the New York Times, National Geographic, and Buzzfeed. Facebook is currently helping journalism and media companies navigate in the digital age. If Facebook becomes the media company, it will destroy the dying industry rather than save it.

[Image via the Silverink]