The dance of FB (and social media) with traditional media companies has been a fraught courtship to say the least. Media watcher Frederic Filloux dispenses a postmortem today in his Medium column.
One particularly telling passage from Filloux’s piece,
Facebook killed the news media three times
First, it killed the notion of brand. Year after year, the percentage of people able to recall where they got their news, is dwindling. “I read it on Facebook” now applies to half the population of the United States and Europe, and much more in countries where Facebook embodies the Internet.
Second, the notion of authorship has also vanished. Almost nobody has a clue who wrote what. Gradually, the two pillars of the trusting relationship between the media and its customers eroded, before crumbling altogether. Facebook has flattened the news for good.
Third, Facebook annihilated the business model of news by opening the way to a massive, ultra-cheap and ultra-targeted advertising system that brings next to nothing to the publishers. The reality of Facebook’s revenue stream is harsh: a European publisher told me last week that its RPM (Revenue per thousands) for videos on Facebook was about 30 cents of a Euro (that is 37 cents on a dollar). A pittance.
Zuckerberg’s last message has the merit of clarity. It says: “Sorry guys, it didn’t work as expected, go somewhere else or face a slow but inexorable extinction in our ecosystem. Nothing personal, here. Just business.”
These points seem unarguable to me–channels are now so flooded with content, which comes from every which place, the notion of checking the source–dear to my librarian/newspaperman mind–thinking critically, and trusted journalism brands, have all taken a beating. If I still work that way, it’s probably a artifact of being a mid-life person who has worked on and off in this world most of his adult life. My question is what channels and hierarchies get disrupted next. iTunes did it to music, FB/social media has done it to news…Filloux’s whole piece is worth reading for news-biz mavens, even if there are debatable points (the end of the full piece seems a little unwarranted in its optimism to me, for instance). He’s got a bit of H.L. in him, namely a style that’s fun to read.