Newsrooms still wary of effect of Facebook’s local emphasis

(Poynter) — On Monday, Facebook announced a new focus on local news in the News Feed. Three people who work in or with local news described their reaction to that news with the same word: whiplash.

“I’m cautiously optimistic, with the emphasis on the caution,” said Robyn Tomlin, Dallas Morning News’ managing editor and soon-to-be regional editor for McClatchy’s Carolina newsrooms. “I think most publishers are feeling whiplash from the flurry of changes being announced. I’d like to believe that the focus on quality news and building local communities will mean something. Time will tell.”

Here’s how Facebook described the change:

“Today, we’re updating News Feed to also prioritize local news so that you can see topics that have a direct impact on you and your community and discover what’s happening in your local area. We identify local publishers as those whose links are clicked on by readers in a tight geographic area. If a story is from a publisher in your area, and you either follow the publisher’s Page or your friend shares a story from that outlet, it might show up higher in News Feed.”

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