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Facebook is more important to news distribution than you think, and journalists are freaked out

Facebook’s Liz Heron answered for a litany of perceived sins and slights last week during a conversation with The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal and attendees at the Online News Association conference in Chicago. Journalists are anxious about being left out of the loop about how Facebook works, and they want answers.

Does Facebook play favorites in the News Feed Algorithm? Nope, according to Heron, the company’s head of news partnerships:

Does Facebook decide what news you see? No, your past behavior does, because the News Feed is very personalized:

What’s the best way to get my posts seen on Facebook? Are there any tricks I should know? Read more

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Facebook: More timely News Feed on the way

Facebook

It doesn’t refer to Ferguson, Ice Bucket Challenge videos or a solemn responsibility to bring you news that really matters, but Facebook does seem to be addressing concerns about the service’s ability to surface timely, important news stories.

Here’s what software engineer Erich Owens and engineering manager David Vickrey wrote in a post today outlining more changes to the News Feed:

Our goal with News Feed is to show everyone the right content at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important to them. We’ve heard feedback that there are some instances where a post from a friend or a Page you are connected to is only interesting at a specific moment, for example when you are both watching the same sports game, or talking about the season premiere of a popular TV show. There are also times when a post that is a day or two old may not be relevant to you anymore.

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How to crop photos for Facebook and adapt to the News Feed’s latest algorithm change

Lost in the noise over Facebook’s crackdown on clickbait last week was another change to the social network that could impact all news organizations: the News Feed algorithm will now favor link posts over photo posts and status updates.

When you paste a link to an article on your news organization’s page and Facebook automatically generates a preview box containing the story’s headline, a photo and other information, that’s a link post (here’s documentation on making sure the Facebook Crawler identifies the right information for the link preview). Alternatively, Facebook says, “Some publishers share links in status updates or in the text caption above photos.”

Here’s an example of a link post:

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

 
And here’s an example of a photo post:

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

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Diane Sawyer

After Sawyer’s final ABC World News broadcast, all 3 nightly anchors are now white men

mediawiremorningYo. Here are some media stories.

  1. Is the Yo app ridiculous or revolutionary? That’s the question Cory Blair asks. It’s definitely the former, but it has potential to be the latter, especially now that users can send links and not just notifications with no content. Robert Hernandez has an interesting idea for what news organizations like The Washington Post could use Yo for: “whenever an unarmed person dies at the hands of the police, or every time somebody is killed with a gun.” (American Journalism Review)
  2. Diane Sawyer anchors her final ABC World News broadcast: But she’s staying with the network. David Muir is her successor. “Now, all three nightly news anchors are once again white men,” Brian Stelter notes. (CNN)
  3. NPR’s Michel Martin heads to Ferguson: The former “Tell Me More” host will lead a town hall meeting today. (Poynter) | Yesterday, the St.
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Facebook and Twitter Applications on Ipad

Times of India publisher to staffers: Give us your social media passwords if you’re posting news

mediawiremorningHey, it’s Tuesday. Media stories coming your way!

  1. Strict, strange social-media policy at Times of India: Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd staffers have been told not to post news stories from their personal social media accounts; instead, they must create company-authorized accounts, according to Quartz India. Even weirder: the company — which publishes The Times of India and The Economic Times — “will possess log-in credentials to such accounts and will be free to post any material to the account without journalists’ knowledge,” Sruthijith KK reports. (Quartz India) | Quartz-related: How often should a site launch a redesign, like Quartz just did? Mario Garcia: “The answer varies, and there is a basic principle I follow: redesign (and/or rethink) when you need it.” (Garcia Media)
  2. NYT’s controversial Michael Brown profile: New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan writes that calling Michael Brown “no angel” in a profile of the 18-year-old killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, was “a blunder.” (Public Editor’s Journal) | Times national editor Alison Mitchell told Erik Wemple that the phrase derived from the story’s lead, which told an anecdote about Brown seeing a vision of an angel.
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Facebook and Twitter Applications on Ipad

On the Facebookification of Twitter and the Twitterfication of Facebook

Twitter lately has been full of journalists critical of Facebook for not being more like Twitter — and critical of Twitter for being too much like Facebook.

Throughout the clashes between protesters and police in Ferguson, Missouri, Twitter users have noted that their timelines are blanketed by Ferguson coverage. But their News Feeds on Facebook have been slow to reflect breaking news as it erupts:

Chartbeat’s chief data scientist, Josh Schwartz, weighed in with a traffic referral observation:

Photos, links to livestreams, and breaking-news updates were rapidly spreading on Twitter on Sunday night, while Facebook users were catching up on the day’s Ice Bucket Challenge videos. Read more

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simone-camilli

AP journalist and translator killed in Gaza

Simone Camilli in Beit Lahiya on Monday. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Simone Camilli in Beit Lahiya on Monday. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. AP journalist and translator killed, photographer injured in Gaza: Simone Camilli and translator Ali Shehda Abu Afash “died Wednesday when Gaza police engineers were neutralizing unexploded ordnance in the Gaza town of Beit Lahiya left over from fighting between Israel and Islamic militants.” AP photographer Hatem Moussa was seriously injured in the explosion. (AP) | Moussa got AP’s “Beat of the Week” nod last month. (APME)
  2. Is there a second Snowden? James Bamford writes that he got “unrestricted access to [Edward Snowden's] cache of documents in various locations. And going through this archive using a sophisticated digital search tool, I could not find some of the documents that have made their way into public view, leading me to conclude that there must be a second leaker somewhere.” (Wired) | Related: What it’s like to do a photoshoot with Snowden.
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Embeds of Facebook posts up 50 percent since launch of FB Newswire

Facebook’s already one of the most crucial street corners on the web for hawking news, and here’s an indication it might be gaining traction as a place for gathering news, too: 50 percent more Facebook posts were embedded around the web in the three months after FB Newswire’s launch than in the three months before.

When it debuted in April, the free service from Facebook and Storyful promised to surface verified, newsworthy Facebook posts. It feels best suited for news organizations without the need or ability to pay for sophisticated third-party discovery tools.

The time period since FB Newswire was introduced includes the World Cup — 350 million users generated 3 billion interactions related to the event, according to Facebook — and fighting in Ukraine, Gaza and Iraq, major world news stories.

Facebook is the dominant social media platform in the Middle East, said Liz Heron, head of news partnerships. Read more

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Earns Gannett

Gannett spins off, Murdoch and Time Warner square off

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Gannett will split publishing, broadcast assets: Its acquistion of broadcast companies and the 73 percent of Cars.com it didn’t own make this “the right time for a separation,” CEO Gracia Martore says in a statement. Robert J. Dickey will run the publishing company, which be called Gannett and will hold USA Today and 81 dailies, plus the U.K.’s Newsquest. (Poynter) | Just yesterday, Ken Doctor asked whether Gannett would be the next big media company to split its assets. (Nieman) | Rick Edmonds explained the rash of splits last week. Newspaper groups can “theoretically do better with management whose exclusive focus is on the particular challenges of that industry,” he wrote. (Poynter)
  2. Let us now observe Rupert Murdoch’s mating dance: Time Warner’s “unyielding stance has at least some analysts wondering if an acquisition really is inevitable,” Jonathan Mahler writes.
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Chartbeat: Mobile traffic dropped 8.5 percent during Friday’s Facebook outage

Chartbeat

Facebook’s 19-minute outage on Friday corresponded to a 3 percent drop in traffic at news sites, according to Chartbeat chief data scientist Josh Schwartz:

In a blog post, Schwartz observes a decrease in mobile traffic correlated with the Facebook outage:

As I discussed in my last post, a huge percentage of mobile traffic comes from Facebook. Given that, we’d probably expect mobile traffic to be hardest hit during the outage. And, indeed, entrances to sites on mobile devices were down 8.5%, when comparing the minute before the outage to the lowest point while Facebook was down.

Traffic to desktop sites, meanwhile, actually increased by 3.5 percent, Schwartz noted: “While we certainly can’t claim that the outage was the cause of that uptick in desktop traffic, the timing is certainly notable.” Read more

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