Mark Zuckerberg’s rare Facebook Q&A session June 30 garnered 241,000+ likes and 7,000+ shares. The general consensus among news organizations and citizen chatter on social media during the event and several days afterwards was fairly lukewarm addressing his responses directed towards a couple of questions on the future of news. Among the very few individuals that actually had a more opinionated response to his perspective, most questioned his professional motives and continued meddling in the news industry. Surprisingly, responses from news organizations were extremely benign, mostly tagging the story and quickly sending it out the door.
During the event which resembled Reddit’s Ask Me Anything, Huffington Post mastermind Arianna Huffington wrote with the following response:
The other news-related question Zuckerberg answered was from media pundit, professor and BuzzMachine journalist Jeff Jarvis:
Reactionary excerpts from the low number of Facebook and Twitter respondents (mainly news/communications professionals):
Here are snippets from just a few PR/news industry insiders that responded…
(Matt Kiser, product manager at Business Insider)
(Dan Gillmor, Director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University‘s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication)
(David Boardman, Dean of Temple University School of Media and Communications)
News Organization Reactions
As previously mentioned, few news organizations followed through by responding to Zuckerberg’s thoughts on the future of news. Most posted the NeimanLab short recap of what was said, but didn’t lend any robust dialogue to his news industry vision.
Fortune was a little more responsive, “Facebook has always had a somewhat fraught relationship with the news: Many users seem to think of the social network as just a place where they can see a friend’s baby or dog photos, but research shows a growing number of people also get their news there. And CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear that he wants news to play a much larger role in Facebook, with features like Instant Articles—the mobile-news partnership where outlets like the New York Times publish entire articles directly to the platform.”
The most detailed response came from SubcriptionInsider:
“Jarvis and Huffington both compliment Zuckerberg for Facebook’s innovation and contribution to publishing platforms for news, and we’ve got to agree that Facebook has changed how we consume and share news. With 1.44 billion active monthly users, Facebook has more eyeballs than virtually every other platform or site. Zuckerberg uses Facebook’s popularity to leverage his company’s impact on news consumption, much like Google has done with its new array of journalism tools.
This cold hard fact will also make it hard for media companies to pass up the opportunity to publish select stories using Instant Articles. So far, media outlets who have been invited by Facebook to participate have been slow to adopt the platform. Once publishers embrace the necessity of strong partnerships with companies like Facebook, we expect more stories to be posted using Instant Articles.
As we noted in a previous post, for publishers to use the Facebook tool successfully, they need to be clear what types of content their Facebook audience wants. Do folks who read Facebook on a mobile app really want in-depth, long-form journalism, or would they prefer shorter stories that are interactive and easy to share?
Hopefully, publishers are taking the time to test the Instant Articles platform and compare it to the other platforms they use (e.g., own website, news app, etc.) to see what content works where before they give the Facebook partnership a hearty thumbs up.”
This “ho-hum” response from news professionals on the surface may seem negative for the Facebook camp, but it’s actually the opposite. What billionaire business mogul do you know that doesn’t get raked over the social media coals for pretty much anything they do or say that even slightly might rub us the wrong way? Some might consider Zuckerberg as crazy as “The Donald” to open himself up to an hour-long town hall and the potential-unmerciful scrutiny of us green-eyed town folk wielding our pitchforks and torches. Sure, what he posted wasn’t earthshattering or nothing to write home, Where the guy who issues himself a $1 a year paycheck “shoots and scores” by walking away unscathed, is having his ducks lined up with good, plausible answers that seemed downright genuine and well-thought out.