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ONA Boston Message Board › Facebook as a tool for Online Journalism

Facebook as a tool for Online Journalism

Gauthier G.
user 27049992
Rego Park, NY
Post #: 1
This new push from online journalism groups to get on board to the subscribe thing is not exactly sitting well with me. A few months ago Poynter, Nieman Journalism lab ( http://www.niemanlab....­ ) and others were saying the way for journalists to best make use of Facebook was to create pages for themselves.

The main argument that grabbed my attention was the separation of professional and personal data. This point is two-fold. It allows for journalists to share their work, and reach a wider audience on a professional level through their page, while being allowed to retain some privacy when it came to interacting with their personal acquaintances.

This was also valid as far as the news feed was concerned. With a page you could like other pages (like other journalists or news organization) and you could curate a source of information (and of potential stories) ranging from the hyper-local to the international, and have that neatly squared away from your college roommate's wedding pictures.

Now, the new hot thing is the subscribe feature, which is not available for pages. Pages can't subscribe to people. That means that we need to either split the information stream between our pages and our personal profiles, or do away with our pages altogether.

I realize that the new "Google+ like" features (lists, or FB's equivalent to G+'s circles) allow us to curate news feeds much in a similar manner. This does have the advantage that one would not have to keep using Facebook in and out of the "as a page" mode which is a little restrictive. It is also possible to decide which group any given post you put up on your page is visible to. Admittedly the subscription features also bypasses the problem of the 5000 friend limit. All of these could be interpreted as Facebook's way of streamlining and making things easier for journalists (or other groups who may have voiced similar needs).

However, that means that every single time somebody posts on Facebook they would have to be cautious of who they want to share their updates with. That seems like a rather high maintenance exercise, and considering that Facebook is notorious for modifying privacy settings every few months, seems hard to keep track of.

Additionally, there's a potential ethical issue at stake. If I "like" politicians' pages with my professional page, then it doesn't necessarily translate to me supporting the candidate, or taking a political stance, but rather as a way of staying current with a news maker. This subtle but real distinction could become lost if journalists' pages do go the way of the HD DVD.
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