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Facebook seeks new friends in media companies

Tracey Samuelson Mar 24, 2015
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Facebook seeks new friends in media companies

Tracey Samuelson Mar 24, 2015
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Facebook is reportedly in talks with a handful of major publishers  think The New York Times and Buzzfeed  about hosting their news stories directly on the social-media site.

Details are scarce on how this all would work — The New York Times Company wouldn’t even comment to its own reporters — but the basic idea seems to be that while users are looking at pictures of their friend’s new baby, they could also seamlessly get the latest news about, say, the Iran nuclear talks without clicking to an outside site and waiting for that page to load.

News companies are already dependent on Facebook for the traffic it sends them, says Ken Doctor, a media analyst for Newsonomics. If publishers could cement their relationship with Facebook, plus get a share of advertising and access to data Facebook has on users, Doctor says that could be a deal worth making.

But there are still lots of risks and questions to be answered, says Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard. Questions include how much data will be shared, what happens to news organizations’ paywalls, and how will publications maintain their brand identities.

In sum: should media companies give up control in exchange for a bigger audience?

Facebook has 1.4 billion monthly users and it needs to keep those users happy, says Aaron Kessler, a senior research analyst with Raymond James. The longer users spend on the site or app, the more ads Facebook can serve them. 

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