Facebook and Google are attempting to promote local news, after spending years helping making it increasingly difficult for local news. Facebook has made tweaks to its newsfeed algorithm, while Google is introducing free apps for local publishers to help get their content out there.
|Facebook and Google are trying to dig local news out of the grave they put it in|
….Facebook said on Monday that its News Feed now shows users in the U.S. more content from local publishers and local news stories shared by friends, and the company plans to roll the same changes out to more countries soon. Facebook is also testing a separate, specialized feed for local news and government pages within the News Feed in six different cities.
The purpose of Facebook’s new algorithm tweak to promote local news stories in the News Feed, as Mark Zuckerberg put it in his Facebook post on the announcement, is high-minded: “Local news helps build community — both on and offline.”
Just over two weeks ago, Facebook also announced its News Feed would start surfacing less content from publishers (like, say, CNN or National Geographic) and instead, promote posts and comments from friends and family. Similar algorithm tweaks have already been tested on Facebook in smaller countries, such as Bolivia and Slovakia, and caused substantial traffic drops for those nations’ media markets.
“The issue is digital advertising is never going to be enough to sustain real local newsrooms for these publishers, so what good does the extra clicks do?”
In Google’s case, the company last week introduced a pilot local news app called Bulletin in Nashville, Tennessee and Oakland, California. Bulletin, as Google describes it, allows users (who don’t have to be professional journalists) to take photos and videos, write out text, and then publish directly to the web. It’s not publicly available yet — access is granted by request. The idea is that local publishers can use the app’s crowdsourced news to augment their news coverage, according to Google spokesperson Maggie Shiels.
“Local publications can use this content for free if they find it useful or it enhances any of their work because it will be public and published under a Creative Commons licence,” Shiels told VICE News in an email. “A local reporter can’t cover every event in town — take sports. There are scores of little league games, soccer matches, lacrosse, hockey, swimming, water polo, and tennis matches taking place every weekend. Add to that other community events, etc., and it is impossible to be at everything just in case something happens.”
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