While Facebook’s January algorithm changes threatened the health of many publishers that rely on the social-media platform for traffic, one sector Facebook pledged to help was local news, with its Local News Subscription Accelerator Program.
In a Facebook blog post, Campbell Brown, head of new partnerships, stated: “This initiative is part of our ongoing efforts to provide tools and trainings to newsrooms and journalists — and to ensure our platform connects people to the quality, trusted and local news that is most important to them. We will be making additional investments in organizations and programs committed to strengthening and advancing the future of journalism.”
The tech company released the recap from the accelerator’s NYC kickoff, outlining how participants will move forward.
Some 42 executives from 14 metro news publishers met in New York, hearing about ways to develop performance benchmarks and how to change company culture to embrace a consumer-revenue model. Nine industry speakers shared how they have adapted to the new digital journalistic marketplace.
The project will continue over the next three months, during which participants will take part in hands-on workshops, grant-making programs and have access to regular reports from The Lenfest Institute and Facebook Journalism Project. They will also meet two more times in person.
Facebook has invested $3 million in the initiative and participants include the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, The Denver Post, The Miami Herald, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Omaha World-Herald, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Tennessean and Newsday, among others.
The irony: Facebook, given its various media scandals, is now teaching outlets how to beat the social media game. Some of the advice given to participants included how to experiment cheaply to test new revenue streams. Participants were also taught best practices for developing a subscription business.
The anxiety that occurs each time Facebook institutes a new algorithm change makes it nearly impossible to anticipate how media will survive from year to year. Since the January tweak, several outlets have gone under due to loss of traffic.
Ultimately, one has to hope that with the right formula, tech giants become a piece of the publishing revenue puzzle — rather than remaining the puzzle master.