Facebook launches effort to help boost newspaper subscriptions

Facebook recently took steps to enable publishers to encourage paid subscriptions directly from the social network

Afp February 27, 2018
This file photo taken on December 12, 2007 shows the logo of social networking website 'Facebook' displayed on a computer screen in London, 12 December 2007. US social media giant Facebook launched a campaign in Britain on June 23, 2017 to counter the spread of online extremism following warnings from Prime Minister Theresa May after four terror attacks in three months. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: Facebook on Tuesday announced a $3 million pilot project aimed at helping US newspapers boost paid digital subscriptions.

The move was the latest by the huge social network to respond to concerns that it and other online platforms have hurt news organizations by dominating internet advertising.

The "local news subscriptions accelerator," part of the Facebook Journalism Project, will work with a small group of metro news organizations "to unlock strategies that help publishers build digital customer acquisitions on and off our platform," said a statement from Campbell Brown, Facebook's head of news partnerships.

Facebook recently took steps to enable publishers to encourage paid subscriptions directly from the social network, moving away from requirements that news organizations offer free content in links from Facebook.

The new initiative builds on that effort by offering guidance to publishers to help their digital initiatives.

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"We know Facebook is one part of the strategy to engage readers and ultimately drive paid subscriptions," Brown said.

Facebook will offer "coaching from digital subscription experts" to help build reader engagement, she added.

The effort by Facebook comes amid ongoing woes of legacy news organizations which have had trouble replacing revenues lost from print advertising in the digital space, with many outlets implementing new or revised "paywalls."

Facebook said it is working in the project with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, Denver Post, Miami Herald, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Omaha World-Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, Seattle Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Tennessean and Newsday.

Brown said Facebook would coordinate with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism to share findings through the Local Media Consortium, Local Media Association, and the News Media Alliance.