Social Media

Facebook Can’t Find The Local News It Killed

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Facebook is not solely responsible for decimating the newspaper industry, but it certainly played an overwhelming role in the demise of journalism and local news; the kind of local news the platform would ideally like to publish in its local news section.

Now, with an unmistakable air of irony, Facebook has disclosed that about 40 percent of the country has no local news to draw from for the local news section of Facebook.

The service, launched last year, is currently available in some 400 cities in the United States. But the social media giant said it has found that 40 percent of Americans live in places where there weren’t enough local news stories to support it. [...]

The Facebook service, called ”Today In ,” collects news stories from various local outlets, along with government and community groups. The company deems a community unsuitable for “Today In” if it cannot find a single day in a month with at least five news items available to share.

There’s not a wide geographical disparity. For example, the percentage of news deserts is higher in the Northeast and Midwest, at 43 percent, Facebook said. In the South and West, the figure is 38 percent.

Facebook is quick to point out that it has awarded $300 million in grants to individuals who have "ideas" for promoting local news, whateverthefuck that means, but I find that to be pathetic if not insulting.

Facebook is one of the richest companies on the planet and could simply fund newsrooms itself if they wanted to. But that is not their business model. Their business model is in using what others have done and then selling their own ads based on it.

Facebook's wrath extends beyond local news and is, as many of you know, almost entirely responsible for The Daily Banter's transition from a daily publication to a newsletter.

I disabled my Facebook account in 2010 for personal reasons and I have never regretted it.

  • Badgerite

    They “break things.” It’s what they do. It is literally how they make money. By destroying everyone else so as to be an unchallengeable and non-transparent monopoly.

  • gescove

    I disabled my Facebook account a year or two ago. I had to reestablish a stub account (name only, no posts) to be able to track events/activities of some organizations I am involved with. I hate that I need to do it. Agreed, Facebook is evil. It is the embodiment of the soulless evil of unrestrained techno-corporatism.

  • muselet

    My local paper was lousy when I first started reading it as a kid and hasn’t improved.

    It now publishes six days a week instead of seven, has one reporter assigned to the city in the name (he gets maybe three articles a week published), shares 90%+ of its news hole (which is, in turn 90% AP stories) with half a dozen other papers put out by the same publisher, supports all R politicians and policies, and has run the execrable “Mallard Fillmore” strip since day one.

    And yet I subscribe to the damn’ thing—which costs me more than my sub to the LA Dog Trainer, incidentally—because of those maybe three articles a week about my hometown. If The Daily Fishwrap goes out of business, I’ll know even less about the stupidity going on in town. So, I hold my nose and subscribe.

    Oh, and Facebook is evil.

    –alopecia

    • gescove

      You aptly describe my own local newspaper and my relationship to it, except it is only published four days a week. The execrable “Mallard Fillmore” also disgraces its pages. The cartoons chosen for the OpEd page are often just as repugnant.