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Local news outlets are suddenly big fans of Facebook again

Local news outlets are suddenly big fans of Facebook again
[Photo: Flickr user Maurizio Pesce]

Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement this week that Facebook will begin prioritizing local news content in people’s news feeds has local media outlets excited about the prospect of increased engagement. In a few industry-released statements, the word “commitment” is being thrown around.

“This decision shows that Zuckerberg and Facebook are serious about following through on their commitment to support meaningful interactions that build community,” said Warren St. John, CEO of the hyperlocal platform Patch, in a statement. “Every platform also understands that local content creates extremely high engagement.”

“Facebook’s commitment to feature more local news on its platform reaffirms broadcasters’ important role in serving as trusted, relied upon resources for essential community news and information,” added Steve Lanzano, president and CEO of TVB, a trade group for the broadcast industry.

Those sentiments are understandable considering that Facebook’s black box of an algorithm has, for so long, downgraded legitimate news content in favor of more clickbaity fare. But given the many slapdash, sometimes contradictory news-feed updates Facebook has rolled out over the years, it seems hard to justify using the words “Zuckerberg” and “commitment” in the same sentence–at least, when it comes to Facebook’s relationship with the news industry.

To borrow from the site’s own parlance, “it’s complicated” is the probably the best relationship status we can hope for.CZ