12.22.16: What Facebook doesn’t do…your comments
LAST WEEK’S HINT was an article from Dave Degenstien, Editor/Publisher of the Last Mountain Times. In it, Dave outlined his problems with Facebook. Some followers were quick to point out that Dave’s article may have been off the mark—that often the real problem isn’t Facebook…but us. I’m repeating Dave’s full piece below for context, followed by comments from others. I’m not sure there are any “winners” or losers” in this argument. I believe that whenever we argue for readers, whoever wins…well…we all win. And the discussion is healthy.
Here’s Dave’s article:
A colleague of mine in the newspaper business commented to me recently that he has seen a ‘drift’ away from people, organizations, and even local governments contributing community news items, and announcements of upcoming events, etc. to their community newspapers, and instead putting that information on Facebook. During our discussion, there developed a theme that is similar to the ‘shop local’ promotions that many small towns have undertaken to remind people to patronize their local businesses in order to preserve their local communities and perhaps even help them grow a bit. The theme goes something like this, as it relates to the Last Mountain area:
While Facebook may get information to a close circle of friends and a network of personal contacts, it doesn’t get that information to about 2,300 people in the Last Mountain area each week (based on the local paper being read each week by 2.3 people per household).
Facebook doesn’t pay rent, or property and education taxes in the local area.
Facebook doesn’t buy at the local grocery and hardware stores.
Facebook doesn’t buy gas at the local gas stations.
Facebook doesn’t have children or grandchildren attending local schools.
Facebook isn’t the local Post Office’s biggest volume customer, week after week after week.
Facebook doesn’t attend or report on local events.
Facebook doesn’t report on local municipal government meetings and activities.
As a matter of fact, Facebook doesn’t contribute anything to the local economy …anywhere. On the other hand, local community newspapers and their owners and employees do all of the above, and more.
Something to think about.
FROM STEPHEN GUILFOYLE:
Sure, facebook doesn’t do any of those things.
But if we are talking about events, does Facebook tell someone when and where? Usually.
Does Facebook tell readers Miss Pitty got married to Joe Bob wearing a mutton chop sleeved dress at the Armor of God Tabernacle?
If that is submitted to Facebook in the right place, the whole community can find out from Facebook.
Yeah, newspapers do a lot more in the community. But the basic job of the newspaper is to inform, and Facebook can do as good a job as us, if it is used correctly by the community, and whining about the business license fees that we pay and it doesn’t get us nowhere with those we want to get the information from us makes us sound like crybabies.
We have got to provide information that people still aren’t putting on Facebook, and make it information that is vital for the readers, so that they will want to use us, not Facebook, for announcements and news and social items.
FROM RANDY KECK:
I agree and disagree with Stephen.
Facebook is as “good” or as “bad” as the people and entities who post there. I agree that we need to publish information that is vital to readers. As much time and effort as we put in toward doing just that, I am finding that many of our traditional “sources” have dried up as politicians, particularly, seek to do “end runs” around the media to communicate with constituents.
Recently our County Judge announced he was not seeking re-election. He made his announcement on Facebook. The “slap in the face” to me is that he is the person from whom I bought my newspaper 20 years ago.
So, while I agree that we need to continually seek to be relevant, I also disagree with the characterization of “whining.” When our locally-owned hardware store advertises, hoping customers don’t go out of town to Home Depot or Lowe’s, I think it is perfectly appropriate to remind the public who is paying for those little league uniforms, local donations and teacher salaries, and I think it is appropriate for us to do so as well.
FROM DIANNE WALKER:
Facebook doesn’t fact check the “news” they post. The story about Miss Pitty and Joe Bob may not be true and a just a hoax. Facebook can’t be lumped together with newspapers. In a newspaper we don’t let people say horrible things about someone they don’t like.
I can, in a way, understand some posting their wedding, funerals and/or newborns on Facebook, with the price some papers charge for that. Personally, I think newspapers should allow people coming into the world or going out for free.
I would never trust Facebook to tell me what time the city council is meeting and on what day! It will be wrong most of the time.
FROM JESSICA de la CRUZ:
Unless we step into the larger world, and start thinking about what our customers want and how they prefer to receive information, we are doomed to fail.|
Facebook users don’t understand that their posts only go to a small portion of their followers. They don’t understand that everyone won’t immediately know that they got engaged or are pregnant or what they had for dinner. If Facebook is a serious threat in your community then maybe instead of the “poor me” approach of Facebook doesn’t pay taxes in your community or help out the post office, maybe just inform your readers of what your paper does that facebook can’t. Like reach the entire community!
1) Newspaper staffer picks and chooses what is “newsworthy” depending on whether the submission was made by someone he/she likes or by someone who hasn’t ticked him/her off.
2) Newspaper staffer decides not to read all his/her email that day.
3) Newspaper staffer doesn’t get the facts correct about an upcoming event.
4) Newspaper staffer intimidates someone who submits copy about an event.
5) Newspaper staffer could care less because he/she doesn’t participate in community events.
6) Not all community events are put into a calendar format and the public has to hunt for small stories because they are buried.
7) Newspaper management feels certain public news needs to be an advertisement.