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Here’s why NBC News took Facebook’s Instant Articles deal

NBC News' launch story on "Instant Articles" includes tilt-to-view photos, autoplay videos and an interactive map of a California almond farm. (Image credit: NBC News)

NBC News’ launch story on Facebook’s Instant Articles includes tilt-to-view photos, autoplay videos and an interactive map of a California almond farm. (Image credit: NBC News)

After Facebook’s Instant Articles program went live Wednesday morning, many media commentators wrote about its potential drawbacks for publishers.

Over at Fortune, Mathew Ingram called the deal a “Faustian bargain,” saying it allowed the social networking giant to tighten its grip on news consumers; David Nield at Readwrite warned the program was symptomatic of the continued consolidation of the Internet; writing for The Awl, John Herrman observed that news outlets were likely to clash with Facebook by running afoul of its content standards.

But Julian March, the senior vice president of editorial and innovation at NBC News, isn’t wringing his hands over Facebook, or the deal it extended to his network. Read more

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Fear and loathing greet the Facebook-New York Times deal


Image by Deposit Photo

Image by Deposit Photo

Fear and loathing.

That’s an initial response to Facebook partnering with nine content companies, including the New York Times and BuzzFeed. Many in the media echo chamber are wondering, “What’s this mean for us?”

No shortage of editors and publishers took a pass Wednesday in speaking on the record. But Larry Kramer, president-publisher of USA Today and a onetime tech luminary, underscored his curiosity and qualms.

“I think all of us in the media need to pay attention to this experiment with Facebook,” he said in an email.

“On the one hand it is definitely a publishing platform that we all have to pay attention to, because so many people are spending so much time consuming content on it. On the other hand, in publishing here we are further de emphasizing our role as editors who influence what you should be spending your time on.”

“And, we are acknowledging that the reader is more a customer of Facebook’s than ours. Read more

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Publishing news direct to Facebook is a big step — but the Apocalypse is not upon us

Sceeenshot from Facebook

Sceeenshot from Facebook

My read on Facebook’s deal with nine news publishers to post some material direct to the platform: yes, it’s a significant business development but by no means apocalyptic, as some commentators are suggesting.

Here’s why:

Good company: It was artful of Facebook and the publishers to assemble nine prominent brands to launch the experiment  — including new media exemplar BuzzFeed, magazine-based National Geographic and four international titles.

Were this just The New York Times, for instance, one would wonder whether the opportunity and deal terms were a one-off match to their business situation.  Not so with this roster.

Favorable revenue split:  The publishers will (for now at least) get 100 percent of revenue for ads they sell and 70 percent of those Facebook sells.  Read more

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Report: NYT will begin publishing within Facebook tomorrow

New York | The Wall Street Journal | The New York Times

A much-anticipated publishing partnership between Facebook and major news outlets such as The New York Times, BuzzFeed and National Geographic is on the eve of its debut, according to a report published Tuesday in New York.

On Wednesday, The New York Times is expected to begin publishing articles within Facebook as part of the social network’s “Instant Articles” program, a major shift that has been on the horizon since October, when late New York Times columnist David Carr described the initiative’s contours in his weekly column.

The partnership, which has gradually come into focus with successive media reports as its launch date approached, will purportedly reduce the amount of time readers have to wait for articles to load. Read more

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Society for News Design named Facebook ‘World’s Best Designed’ in digital competition

Society for News Design

To close out its annual workshop on Saturday, the Society for News Design named four winners as the “World’s Best Designed Newspapers” and one site, Facebook, as “Best Designed Digital.” Saturday, Kenney Marlatt wrote about the results for the Society of News Design.

For the “Best Designed Digital” winner, judges from Vox, the Center for Investigative Reporting and Sueddeutsche Zeitung chose Facebook from among 10 finalists. In SND’s post, Fernando Diaz explained the judges findings, noting that we’re at a crossroads.

From desktop to mobile to app, this year’s winner works. Everywhere. On anything. It provides a richer news experience than any one “site.” It is redefining “community,” by evolving our relationships with the news and each other. We must not only embrace this shift, but learn from it and evolve our organizations accordingly.

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How publishers are using Facebook interest targeting to reach niche audiences

To target your posts for readers with specific interests, go to your page on Facebook and click the target icon. Then, select "interests" and type in the selected topic. (Screenshot from Facebook)

To target your posts for readers with specific interests, go to your page on Facebook and click the target icon. Then, select “interests” and type in the selected topic. (Screenshot from Facebook)

In today’s unbundled media landscape, where news organizations slice and dice their audiences with newsletters, apps, social media accounts and verticals, Facebook has given publishers another tool to segment their followers: interest targeting.

In December, Facebook began allowing page owners to target different segments of their audiences with posts based on their readers’ interests. Interest-based targeting, which was previously made available to advertisers, is now being used for free by news publishers to find specific niche audiences among their respective readerships. The tool allows publishers to increase the likelihood that users who follow their page will see a post that’s aligned with their stated interests. Read more

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Look to the past for lessons on the news industry showdown with Facebook

News and commentary this week that leading news organizations are close to striking a deal to publish directly to Facebook’s platform reminds me, and others, of an industry faceoff six years ago with Google.

As you may recall, Rupert Murdoch had denounced Google for “stealing” content in its news summaries.  William Dean Singleton, chairman of MediaNews and the Associated Press board, threatened a war to protect newspapers’ copyright at AP’s and NAA’s 2009 conferences in San Diego. Google’s Eric Schmidt spoke to the NAA and faced a number of hostile questions.

We all know how that turned out.  Google won.  They continue publishing Google news summaries and referring traffic via search. Except to the AP itself, Google generally hasn’t paid for news it borrows. An AP-led effort to organize a licensing collective (NewsRight), never found its legs.  Read more

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Death and writing short – the missing SXSW session

I once heard the great Francis X. Clines of the New York Times tell a group of journalists never to apologize for writing about death.  “We tell the morbid truth,” he said.

I was scheduled to deliver a workshop on “How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times” on St. Patrick’s Day at SXSW.  But on Friday the Thirteenth my mother, Shirley Clark, died at the age of 95.  I cancelled my trip to Austin and turned my writing skills to crafting her eulogy.

Here are some of the things I would have said at SXSW if I had been able to make the trip.  It riffs off my handout for the session, which you can access here.  When I picked the selections of short writing for study, I didn’t realize how many of them were about death:  dying, almost dying, fear of dying, recovering from a death, remembering a death, the legacy of death.  Read more

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6 questions raised by Facebook’s reported deal with publishers

If Facebook is able to persuade media organizations to go along with its newest idea, it will be, no kidding, a game-changer.

The New York Times reported last night that Facebook is talking with the Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed and others about a plan that would have the news organizations hosting their mobile content on Facebook rather than linking back to their own sites.

When I teach newsrooms how to smartly use Facebook, I tell them that it is vital that most posts push the reader back “to the mothership.” By that I mean get the reader onto the newsroom’s website. The reasons are simple: That’s where the ads are, that’s where the metrics are and that’s where the other content that publishers want people to read, watch and listen to is posted. Read more

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News orgs may sign on to an even closer partnership with Facebook. Like?

Good morning. Here are eight media stories.

  1. Update status

    The New York Times reports that Facebook is in talks with several news organizations, including BuzzFeed, National Geographic and the Times itself, to host content on Facebook. "Such a plan would represent a leap of faith for news organizations accustomed to keeping their readers within their own ecosystems, as well as accumulating valuable data on them." (The New York Times) | Facebook "isn’t just another platform," Joshua Benton writes for Nieman Lab. "It’s dominant in a way no other platform is, which makes it understandable that publishers might be weighing the cost-benefit — or control-benefit — analysis differently than it does for, oh, WhatsApp or Snapchat." (Nieman Lab) | John Battelle has five questions for organizations considering the partnership, including "Do you have any proof that publishers using another company’s proprietary platform have ever created a lasting and sustainable business?" (Medium) | On Monday, Poynter's Ben Mullin wrote "How Vox Media gets readers to share on Facebook." (The answer is that Vox creates content just for Facebook.) (Poynter) | Vox also wrote about its approach to Facebook.

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