Facebook’s business is journalism’s business

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The social network will roll out Instant Articles to all publishers April 12. (Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The social network will roll out its Instant Articles program to all publishers April 12. (Photo: b_d_solis/Flickr under CC)

Next Tuesday (April 12th), at Facebook’s F8 conference in San Francisco, the social network is to open up Instant Articles to every single publisher in the world.

Instant Articles, which was launched last May, started a revolution into Facebook’s relationship with journalism, and how users consume journalism on social media. Publishers including the BBC, The New York Times, BuzzFeed, The Guardian and MTV have been utilizing Instant Articles, which hosts content produced by those organizations on Facebook.

In a blog post from earlier this year, Josh Roberts, a Product Manager for Facebook, said opening up Instant Articles would allow users to be connected to content and subjects they cared about.

“Facebook’s goal is to connect people to the stories, posts, videos or photos that matter most to them,” Roberts said. “Opening up Instant Articles will allow any publisher to tell great stories, that load quickly, to people all over the world. With Instant Articles, they can do this while retaining control over the experience, their ads and their data.”

As the social network prepares to open Instant Articles up to the world’s publishers, it comes at an interesting time for the relationship between social media and journalism, where content has become the strategic core of engaging new audiences to platforms. This is particularly the case for not just Facebook, but also Twitter and Snapchat.

Twitter introduced Moments late last year as CEO Jack Dorsey tries to increase the amount of users, while Snapchat has been trying to make its Discover feature more accessible to users, with potential changes coming as early as next month. This also comes as the satirical news site The Onion becomes the latest publisher to join Discover.

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel. Snapchat has been one of the platforms competing for audiences through its Discover feature. (Photo: Techcrunch/Flickr under CC)

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel. Snapchat has been one of the platforms competing for audiences through its Discover feature. (Photo: Techcrunch/Flickr under CC)

Separately, Facebook introduced late last year to iPhone users a notifications app called Notify, with content from organizations including CNN and The Weather Channel.

However, this relationship has been beneficial to publishers and news organizations, who have been presented the opportunity to engage with new audiences alongside retaining current ones. At the same time, it has raised questions on the quintessential social strategy to have the most impact and potential for audience engagement.

As Facebook and other platforms continue to try to increase their audiences and change user experience, journalism has become part of the equation of the future of social media. The business of social media has now become a fundamental component of the business of journalism, and both businesses have one thing in common — they are constantly evolving.

One thing however is for certain in this ever changing, yet mutually beneficial relationship. It has established that there is always going to be a need for journalism and those who work in it. The platforms may change, but there is always going to be a need for people to analyze and make sense of the day’s events, irrespective of beat.

Social media is going to evolve, but journalism will be the one that comes out on top, a big win for the industry that, like social media, is trying to answer the big question: “What is next?”

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to Net Worked on social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Long Form Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

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.

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