“Contribution” is an interesting word choice when you think of how Facebook “contributes” to news. To me, Facebook feels like it “is” the news because it is now so deeply engrained in how we send and receive information and messages. However, in taking a step back to see how Facebook contributes to the news generally, we can really see that it’s part of a gigantic world of media.
Facebook is like a newspaper all its own, with news from various reporters, media outlets, and users. I think of it as a big paper like the New York Times. It receives freelance articles, staff and contributor articles, op-eds, and newswire articles. It’s a melting pot of news. Being a digital platform, Facebook is already ahead of so many newspapers in the area of digital media as has a native group of users who participate online. The users are there, it just needs the news. Newspapers have the news, they need the digital readership.
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Over the next five years, I see Facebook as being a major vehicle for newspapers to stay alive. Even though there are so many different newspapers and magazines online which share their content on Facebook, they tend to carve out their niche and a loyal readership. Rather than fight to make it on a website alone, newspapers can use Facebook as a way to engage and build these relationships so that the paper’s websites can thrive through Facebook Instant Articles. Users are already on Facebook, they just need their news delivered to them. In a way, Facebook is the new “paper boy”. In this sense, I think that traditional news publishers don’t lose control when they harness the power of their loyal readership.
I also see Facebook as a change agent. I believe that this digital paperboy is also like the paper boy selling papers in a town square yelling, “Extra! Extra! Read all about it! President Obama signs new healthcare bill! Police violence escalating in Chicago!” This is the essence of the snackable nature of Facebook and I believe it leads to greater awareness about what is happening in our world.
Facebook, to me, is the digital printing press, the newsfeed is the digital paperboy giving us our news and yelling about headlines trying to get us to read more and learn more about our world. It’s not the end of newspapers and paperboys, it’s the reinventing of the process and streamlining of information and technology. Whether or not Mark Zuckerburg has too much power is not too different of a question when we consider the empires that particular news organizations and publishing houses have come to be over the years. It’s a season of change and it’s time to turn a new leaf. Before we had print, radio, and television powerhouses—now we have digital giants.