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Facebook and Medium are digital media’s never-ending merry-go-rounds

Facebook and Medium are digital media’s never-ending merry-go-rounds
[Photo: Ann Kathrin Bopp/Unsplash]

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane. Facebook, about two years ago, launched Facebook Live and encouraged publishers to join in on the fun. And, of course, publishers did because Facebook offered a vast potential for distribution and controlled a not-insignificant amount of the digital advertising marketshare. Facebook paid these publishers money to post content to its platform, with the understanding that this would lead to more advertising opportunities and therefore more revenue. And then Facebook dropped the publishers.

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More recently, Facebook began working on a new video platform called Facebook Watch, to which it also wooed publishers to join. And now, Digiday reports that it only plans on renewing one-third of the news shows it originally signed. That means that two-thirds of the publishers are being axed. Sure sounds similar, no?

Digiday adds that Facebook isn’t doing away completely with Watch news programs. Rather, it’s just being more “more selective and careful about what it funds going forward.” Still, it sure feels like a redux of the last time Facebook asked publishers to invest resources into programming that theoretically would lead to increased reach.

The company’s video lead for news partnerships, Shelley Venus, provided Digiday with the following statement: “We’re going to continue experimenting with news publishers in Watch and sharing what we learn … We’re partnering with these organizations to build sustainable video businesses, where Facebook can be one part of their overall strategy.”

Facebook isn’t the only digital platform prone to repeating this pattern of behavior. In other media déjà vu news, Medium is now hiring at least eight new people for a bevy of new editorial projects, according to new job postings. That sound great, but recall that this is the same company that—not once but twice—wooed editors and writers with the promise of digital sustainability, encouraging them to use its platform to build standalone editorial projects before cutting them all.

The new Medium projects include a “new business publication,” a “new general interest publication,” a “new health publication,” a “new technology and science publication,” as well as something else having to do with cryptocurrency. While new jobs in media are certainly something to behold, Medium’s track record is anything but stellar. The company said last week that this is part of its soon-to-launch slate of subscription-based publications.

Today, I write about how Facebook is cutting publisher resources–much in the way it did before. I sure hope I don’t have to write this same article about Medium a year from now.

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