Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg looks to fund high-quality news journalism

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Facebook wants to create a new section dedicated to high-quality and trusted news that could offer new ways to support funding for journalism, the social network’s boss Mark Zuckerberg has revealed.

The tech giant is at the early stages of exploring a news surface idea, similar to its existing Watch platform devoted entirely to videos.

“One of the things I’ve been thinking about at Facebook is how to make it so that people who use our services and want to get more news content can do that,” Mr Zuckerberg said.

Facebook
(Niall Carson/PA)

“I think that there’s a real opportunity within a separate news surface to have better monetisation for publishers than we have today on News Feed.”

Publishers have been increasingly squeezed by Facebook’s dominant position, as more people opt to consume news from Facebook’s News Feed.

The social network has attempted to help the struggling sector, particularly local news, launching a £4.5 million scheme to fund 80 trainee local journalists for two years initially.

“Local journalism is having a hard time transitioning to the internet in general, I would hope that we can be one of the ways that we can support and make that more sustainable from both a distribution and monetisation perspective,” Mr Zuckerberg said in a video posted on his official Facebook page, in which he discusses the role of quality journalism with Mathias Dopfner, the chief executive of Germany publisher Axel Springer.

 

 

This year I’m hosting a series of discussions about the future of technology and society. This time I sat down with Mathias Döpfner in Berlin. He started his career as a journalist and he’s now the CEO of Axel Springer, the largest publisher in Europe. We talked about the role quality journalism plays in building informed communities and the principles Facebook should use for building a news tab to surface more high quality news, including the business model and ecosystem to support it. We also discussed the privacy-focused vision I laid out for the future of social networking and the four ideas for internet regulation I published this weekend. These are important topics and I could have spent hours talking to Mathias about them. It’s important to me that we help people get trustworthy news and find solutions that help journalists around the world do their important work.

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Monday, April 1, 2019

“I want to try to build this in a more consultative way, where we go around and we talk to the folks who are the experts in the field who have been doing this work, to work out what the principles of this service should be.”

With the idea of licensing to fund news on its site put to Mr Zuckerberg, he responded: “That’s something I definitely think that we should be thinking about here, because the relationship between us and the publishers is different to a surface where we’re showing the content on the basis of us believing that it’s high-quality, trustworthy content.”

The development comes after the social network announced that it would begin explaining to users why they are seeing certain posts on their news feed in an attempt to make the platform easier to understand.

Chris Price