It started last year with Facebook Live as a way to boost engagement with live videos, be it a Q&A, analysis or reporting during a breaking news story. Now, Facebook has gone full circle with the introduction of live audio.
In an announcement, the social network said the move was an expansion of features on Live, after the introduction of Live 360, with publishers saying they were looking for new ways to go live. Initial partners in the initial launch include the BBC World Service and the book publisher HarperCollins, with a roll out to all of its users being scheduled for early next year.
Facebook has been noted in its abilities to aide audience engagement to journalists and new s organizations, so the introduction of live audio will likely help with that engagement and how stories are told, be it a story local in nature, or one with geopolitical connections. It will expand the reach of broadcasters, be it a local station in Seattle or the business program Marketplace.
Yet, it also raises a couple of questions as to the role and identity of broadcasters, especially public broadcasters, in the digital age, and to what level the content could complement their offerings on the radio. As audiences consume news and media besides the conventional print and broadcast methods, organizations have had to be creative in how these stories are told, with the ultimate goal to find the balance between engaging and informing, especially with younger audiences.
As they do, broadcasters are not simply broadcasters anymore – they are brands, and broadcasting is simply a part of the work that is done. Some have done well in adapting into the digital age, recognizing their obligation to produce quality, ethical journalism, while some have not.
While Facebook’s announcement has its pros for audience engagement, it also is forcing broadcasters to revolutionize their thinking in the digital age, to complement the work that is featured on some of the best mediums in the world, irrespective of subject area or beat.
But ultimately, no matter the content that is produced, broadcasters should have one consideration in mind – not to Facebook, nor the content that be considered viral successes, but to the people that will matter the most – their audience.
Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributor to the SPJ blog network. He also is a member of SPJ’s Ethics Committee.
The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital Community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.