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Journalists on Facebook

Facebook announced a new “Journalists on Facebook” Page yesterday, a new Facebook Page dedicated to helping journalists use Facebook as a reporting tool. My first reaction to this announcement was, didn’t they do that last fall? Yes, Facebook did launch Facebook for Media last Fall, but that Page is more geared to media, the organization.

Journalists on Facebook (or Facebook and Journalists, depending on what you read), are all about the individual. It exists to help journalists better wrangle the power of Facebook for journalism – both from Facebook-provided best practices and peer collaboration from a swelling community of journalism professionals.

What Can You Expect From Journalists On Facebook?

Facebook asked “What do you hope to gain from the ‘Journalists on Facebook Page?’ today. As of this post, the question has received more than 440 votes. The top responses so far include:

  • A look into how other journalists are using Facebook
  • Tips for keeping readers engaged on Facebook
  • Connecting with other journalists
  • Information on the future of social news
  • Insight into what works [on Facebook] and for who[m]

It’s not surprising that the top choice is to learn how other journalists are using Facebook. I was surprised to see “Tips for keeping readers engaged” up there – even higher than connecting with other journalists (which I’m sure is half PR respondents). I’d love to see more tips for how to better engage readers via Facebook – it’s a different social medium and should be treated as such.

Getting Started

The “Journalists on Facebook” Page has a great getting started guide that any new-to-Facebook journalist could benefit from. The guide walks journalists through how they can set up a Facebook Page, how to share links to articles from the Facebook Page, how to engage fans via the Page, and how to link the Page to a mobile device. I know there are a lot of journalists out there who have resisted taking the Facebook plunge for professional use – I think this quick-start is a great resource for them.

Other Uses for Facebook Journalism

Facebook shares some ideas for using Facebook for Journalism through the new site, such as using it to post requests for sources (a supplement to services like HARO) or to poll an audience for feedback. Both require the user to have an audience on their Page of course. The “Journalists on Facebook” Page also has articles on the topic of journalism and Facebook (there are some great ones there).

I suggest reading “Using Facebook for a TV Investigation1.4 Million Facebook Fans Can’t Be Wrong: NPR’s Facebook Page“, and “Facebook’s Growing Role in Social Journalism.” I hope to see this collection grow, as it’s a great resource for journalists looking to go to Facebook.

For Journalists, By Journalists

You definitely get the feeling that Facebook spent a lot of time putting this page together. There are video interviews with top journalists, there’s a registration tab to be notified of journalist meetups in local areas, as well as polling and discussion options which I expect to get more active in the weeks to come. Facebook says news organizations that have utilized Facebook have seen referral traffic increase by an average of 300% – seems like that would be worth the effort to learn more about journalism and Facebook.

If You’re In Journalism, You Need to Be On Facebook

Some people have knocked Facebook’s move to attract more journalists, but I don’t think that’s fair. It’s easy to assume that all journalists know how to use social media – and if they do, they’re probably using Twitter already, true. The utility of Facebook extends beyond that of Twitter – and the long-term opportunities to use Facebook as a journalism platform are extensive.

This is a great opportunity for journalists to learn from other journalists – and I hope that will spawn some great content and more innovation in news. It’s also a good move to get journalists to promote their content, as it will open the doors to more independent journalism (and help media companies discover undiscovered talent – who is journalism’s next Justin Bieber?). Finally, it’s an opportunity for journalists to accumulate their own fan base – an asset they can leverage (depending on their employment agreement) in a future job or independent venture (this is big).

Like It

If you scan the list of ‘Likes’ so far, its obvious that Facebook not only has the support of high-profile journalists for the new Page (but I’m sure they seeded support for it as well – after all, how many journalists are on the Facebook beat already?). Overall, it’s hard to knock the proactive efforts of Facebook here to empower journalists to use their platform. Give it a ‘Like” and stay tuned for more from Facebook. I’ll be that Facebook Insights data for this Page will be pretty interesting too (see trends related to what stories journalists are working on – the news before the news if you will).

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