Oct 25, 2019 - Technology

Zuckerberg wants Facebook's News Tab to do "a better job of supporting journalism"


Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Axios in an interview that the Facebook News Tab, a new feature he's launching today in New York, is an effort to "do a better job of supporting journalism."

What he's saying: "We get that the internet has been very disruptive to the news industry," Zuckerberg said. "Certainly, we are one of the services that is a part of that trend. So I take our responsibility as part of this very seriously."

  • "This is an important moment in our relationship with the news industry and with journalism," he added. "The values here are things that we felt for a long time. It's taken a while to figure out the right way to implement this."

Between the lines: Facebook has gobbled up ads once run on traditional media, helping drive many newspapers out of business.

  • This latest attempt to drive some revenue back to media companies comes amid a sharp rise in negative media coverage of Facebook. 
Screenshot via Facebook

The News Tab will be available today to a small number of U.S. users, then will roll out more widely in the months ahead.

  • The home page (above) will be curated by journalists, led by Anne Kornblut, who are "independent, free from editorial intervention by anyone at the company," according to a post by Campbell Brown, Facebook's vice president of global news partnerships, who oversees News Tab.
  • Why it matters, from Axios chief tech correspondent Ina Fried: Facebook, which long resisted hiring journalists or paying publishers, is now doing both.

I asked Zuckerberg how Facebook will deal with complaints of bias.

  • "I'm sure we’re going to make mistakes," he said. "But we’re approaching this in a different way than we have before. We’re building a team of people who have real experience as journalists. We’ve hired a diverse group who have different backgrounds and views and different nationalities." 
  • "We are monitoring for any kind of bias, both amongst our team and in the product itself," Zuckerberg said. "Making sure that this ends up being a platform for all different perspectives is obviously going to be very important for this succeeding over the long term."

After his Capitol Hill grilling, Zuckerberg told me about today's announcement: "I guess we just say this is going to be the more fun part of the week."

Editor's note: Axios is a News Tab launch partner.

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