So Facebook is continuing its acquisition of journalists, with the arrival of former Bloomberg hack Dan Fletcher as the platform’s ‘managing editor’ – but what does this mean for online news, is the social media behemoth about to take on traditional giants of the news industry?
It’s an interesting development, not least because of the vast global audience that Facebook could become an aggregator for, with tailored, bespoke news delivery. Such a service could potentially be able to take on one of the biggest challenges to the news industry, namely monetising content in such a fashion that avoids creating silos.
At present, only a few online news providers require a subscription – the FT seemingly the most successful, with revenue from subs overtaking that from advertising for the first time, while the Times has to regularly ‘drops’ its paywall (allegedly) in order to maintain decent levels of ABCs.
The challenge faced is that the public want news from a variety of sources, but are unwilling – unsurprisingly – to pay for each and every source they visit. Facebook becoming an aggregator for news content distribution, in some form or other, could potentially tackle this, with the potential to establish an ‘Oyster Card’ style mechanic.
Under such, readers could buy pre-paid credit for the overarching network of news sites delivered through Facebook, and simply spend it as they wish, with Facebook taking responsibility for distributing fees accordingly. The sheer scale of Facebook’s network would suit such an innovative solution, and would avoid the silos created online at present, whilst also giving the public the news they want, from the sources they want it from.
It’s a long shot, but it might just work…