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Facebook’s Evolution as Media Company Continues With Launch of Journalism Project

Variety logo Variety 1/11/2017 Todd Spangler
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Facebook — which has been the poster child for the scourge of “fake news” online — is taking more steps to improve its reputation as a source of high-quality news and information.

The social giant Wednesday announced the Facebook Journalism Project, aimed a forging stronger ties with news organizations and journalists. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has argued that Facebook isn’t a traditional media company, but the new efforts show that it recognizes the need to establish processes to maintain the service’s trust as a media brand.

Facebook’s latest news-hygiene initiative comes after it last week tapped Campbell Brown, a former NBC News correspondent and CNN host, as head of its news partnerships to be an ambassador to the industry. “Covering the news with honesty and integrity is something that matters deeply to me, and I have always felt that journalism is more than just a job,” Brown wrote in a Facebook post.

The Facebook Journalism Project will comprise three elements: collaborating with industry partners to develop news products, including new storytelling formats; providing training and tools for journalists, which includes a partnership with Poynter to launch a certificate curriculum for journalists in the months ahead; and launching educational materials for regular users “so they can make smart choices about the news they read” and promoting news literacy.

“We know that our community values sharing and discussing ideas and news, and as a part of our service, we care a great deal about making sure that a healthy news ecosystem and journalism can thrive,” Facebook director of product Fidji Simo wrote in a blog post announcing the effort.

Last month, Facebook kicked off a program to fight bogus news and hoaxes by working with ABC News, Snopes.com, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, and other third-party fact-checking organizations that are signatories of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles to identify hoaxes on Facebook. “This problem is much bigger than any one platform, and it’s important for all of us to work together to minimize its reach,” Simo wrote.

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