Facebook hiring journalists to curate its new News Tab

An illustration picture taken on March 22, 2018 in Paris shows a close-up of the Facebook logo in the eye of an AFP collaborator posing while she looks at a flipped logo of Facebook. (AFP / Christophe Simon)
Updated 21 August 2019

Facebook hiring journalists to curate its new News Tab

  • A human team will select relevant, reliable breaking and top news stories
  • Facebook to pay some publishers to license news content for the tab

SAN FRANCISCO, US: Facebook on Tuesday confirmed plans for a News Tab that will be edited by seasoned journalists, in a departure from its longstanding practice of letting algorithms dictate a user’s experience.
A human team will select relevant, reliable breaking and top news stories.
Other sections of the tab will rely on algorithms to figure out a user’s interests based on “signals” such as pages followed, interactions with online news or subscriptions to publications.
“Our goal with the News Tab is to provide a personalized, highly relevant experience for people,” Facebook head of news partnerships Campbell Brown told AFP.
“For the Top News section of the tab we’re pulling together a small team of journalists to ensure we’re highlighting the right stories.”
However the majority of stories people see will be determined by software, according to Brown.
The tab would be separate from the trademark news feed at Facebook that displays updates and content from people’s friends.
Facebook Watch already allows users to peruse news shows funded by the social network and other on-demand online content.
California-based Facebook has launched an array of initiatives to support or bolster journalism in recent years as social media has been under intense pressure to avoid becoming a tool to spread misinformation.
“Working with news industry to get Facebook’s News Tab right is our goal and focus this year,” Brown said earlier this month in a tweet.
“Still early days but we are getting tremendous partner feedback on the product. I believe we can provide people on Facebook a better news experience.”
Facebook will reportedly pay some publishers to license news content for the tab.
Earlier this year Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted “to make sure that to the extent that we can, we’re funding as much high-quality journalism as possible.”


Lebanese news agency boycotts politicians’ press conferences, including Hezbollah’s Nasrallah

Updated 07 August 2020

Lebanese news agency boycotts politicians’ press conferences, including Hezbollah’s Nasrallah

  • The Lebanese news agency LBCI has said it will no longer provide coverage of any politician’s press conference, including Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah
  • “Let your accomplishments speak for you and don’t distract people with storytelling,” an LBCI presenter said

LONDON: The Lebanese news agency LBCI has said it will no longer provide coverage of any politician’s press conference, including Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, following Tuesday’s massive explosions.

“The Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International decided that what comes after Aug. 4 is not like what came before,” a presenter announced on live television on Friday.

“Because after the earthquake is not the same as before, because your (Lebanese government) neglect and failure is one of the main reasons for what we have come to ... because after Aug. 4, we need actions and not words, achievements and not speeches.

“Let your accomplishments speak for you and don’t distract people with storytelling,” she said.

“Finally, we tell people: While you are waiting for the speeches of your leaders, there are mothers who are waiting for the return of their children from the rubble — the priority is for them, not for you.”

Many Lebanese welcomed LBCI’s announcement, with several taking to social media to praise the move — especially given that Nasrallah spoke at a press conference at 5:30 p.m. local time, his first address since the blasts.

“Not only Nasrallah, but all speeches, by all parties. They are nothing more than propaganda. They own their own propaganda bullhorns, so let them use those to address their sheep, rather than block the airwaves for the rest of us,” Raghda Azad, a policy adviser, told Arab News.

“Not that LBC is a model or anything, but all television outlets should stop unquestioning and uncritical reports of so-called leaders,” she added.

However, some doubt the move will not be followed by other stations.

“I think it would be great if they all do. But I think because many people care what he says, stations feel like they should oblige,” Aya Chamseddine, a Beirut-based researcher, told Arab News.

“Generally, people tend to — even if they loathe him — root themselves in front of TVs to watch and listen. His speeches are theatrics above all,” she said. “His narrative will be predictable. He will say they know more than anyone what it means to lose people. He’ll be insulting.”

A Lebanese media expert, who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, disagrees with the move.

“CNN, even when it hates (US President) Trump, carries his speeches. Nasrallah is the biggest political player in the region; when he speaks people would want to listen because of his effect on politics and our daily lives,” he said.

“The issue is analyzing what he says later, and tearing it apart when it is false or stupid, like CNN does after every Trump speech or statement.”

The boycott comes three days after Beirut was rocked by two blasts when 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate confiscated six years ago and left in a port storage hangar exploded.

The massive explosions left at least 140 people dead, over 5,000 injured and more than 300,000 homeless. Many say that government corruption and negligence are behind the explosion.