Facebook recent decision to emphasize local news in its “news feed” has many wondering what this means for local TV news stations -- as well as for Facebook as a distributor of news information.
TVB, the TV station advertising group, noted: “With a brand safe environment and greatest share of audience reach within a market, local television stations continue to be the leading provider of ROI-driven multiplatform marketing solutions for advertisers,” stated Steve Lanzano, president/CEO of TVB.
We know the backstory -- and the impetus: Facebook has issues when it comes to fake news, especially dubious content coming from reported Russian troll farms.
But what does this mean for “national” TV new sources -- cable TV news networks and national newspapers, such as USA Today, Wall Street Journal and The New York Times?
We know from those close to Facebook that non-local news content providers won’t be penalized in this change -- but they won’t benefit, either. Additionally, users’ news feed will see less public content -- posts from businesses, brands and media.
Concerning local news, when someone shares a local story, it may show up higher in their news feed. Overall, the news content share of the news feed will get smaller. But the hope is that it will be of higher quality.
Does that mean national news will be of “lower quality”? Remember: National TV news ratings are still higher versus a year ago -- one of the rare area of improvement for traditional TV viewing.
Some tangential research: A 2016 Pew Research study found 44% of the overall U.S. population gets news from Facebook; another study says 57% of Americans get their news “often” from TV.
Facebook's changes will mean the news part of the news feed will drop to around 4% of all content from 5%. Even before this recent announcement in the fourth quarter, Facebook said people were spending 50 million fewer hours per day with the platform.
Even at these lower levels, Facebook seems to moving in a direction that brings it closer to what media organizations have always done: act as an editor.
Is that one of its real long-term roles?