The real problem facing journalism is the vacuum of local news, Penny Abernathy told the Knight Commission on Trust, Media and Democracy last year.
Afterward, someone from Facebook approached her.
Several conversations, one visit and a lot of back-and-forths later, Facebook announced Monday that for the first time, it’s sharing its data on news deserts with Abernathy, from UNC’s School of Media and Journalism, and three other academics.
Overlaid on top of existing and ongoing research, that data could show the clearest picture yet into the real loss of newsrooms and journalists covering news at the local level.
Facebook hopes that by sharing its data with Abernathy, Harvard’s Nicco Mele, Duke’s Phil Napoli, and Matt Weber from the University of Minnesota, those researchers will start working together in figuring out potential solutions, said Anthea Watson Strong, product manager for Facebook’s Today In.
That feature started as a pilot last year in six cities and now surfaces local news on Facebook in 400. Among its early findings, according to a press release, Facebook found that one in three users in the U.S. live in places where there’s not enough local news to launch Today In.
One caveat, said Jimmy O’Keefe, product marketing manager for Today In, is that Facebook’s only measuring what’s posted on Facebook, so if a local newsroom isn’t posting there, it’s not getting measured.
Read more here: https://www.poynter.org/business-work/2019/facebook-says-it-wants-to-do-something-about-news-deserts/