The social network just signed a sweeping deal with News Corp to add its Australian properties to its Facebook News feature. The following day, we got an announcement about a planned new platform for independent writers. The vehicle will allow them to sign up paying readers for subscriptions. But let's face it, Facebook has a distinct history of botched experiments in journalism - and it doesn't always act in the best of faith where journalists are concerned either.
The deal with News Corp spans three years and comes on the back of Facebook's efforts to stave off digital-platforms legislation in Australia. The alternative was paying government-registered news publishers. That prospect resulted in the recent, clumsy ban on sharing news stories. News Corp's Australian sites will now get paid for appearing in Facebook News.
Facebook now also wants to host the work of self-employed writers - and that could be interpreted as a response to platforms like Patreon and Substack. Facebook is trying to tempt writers by promising features, including:
|"Monetization tools to build successful individual websites and businesses, starting with subscriptions."|
Local and smaller publishers seem especially unlikely to profit from Facebook's newest promises. Damon Kiesow is a journalism professor and a chair in digital editing and producing at the University of Missouri School of Journalism:
|"Whether or not smaller publishers benefit in the short or long-term is as always to be decided, but doubtful, it should be budgeted as a marketing expense, and any revenues received should be treated as a windfall, not a dependable new source of income. They tend to have their friends that they go to first, and foes that they desperately have to win over. For everybody else, It's definitely been a don't-call-us, we'll-call-you situation... with all of the tech platforms."|