Suzanne Lindgren

Something cool happened last week. 

We posted a story on our website, “Volunteers needed for playground build,” and shared the link on Facebook.

The article, in case you missed it, talked about how the Osceola Community Health Foundation has raised funds to build an inclusive playground. The playground will be accessible to all children, including those with special needs. There are an estimated 600 such kids within a half-hour drive of Osceola. But the foundation needed people to help build it June 7 and 8.

So we shared the info online. Within a day more than 2,500 people had seen the post. Many had shared it on Facebook. And most importantly, people were signing up for the playground build (https://signup.com/go/yFAaVav if you’d like sign up).

It really made clear the power of local news and the internet. Turns out, the reach of a local paper on Facebook is, more and more, recognized as a positive thing. Even by Facebook. 

In fact, the company is working to help support legitimate local news organizations, according to a recent article in Editor & Publisher magazine.

“It’s really important for community. And Facebook is all about community,” Ann Kornblut, the company’s director of news, new initiatives, told E&P. “We talk a lot about how to build a community through news, and in fact you can’t build a strong community without news.”

Kornblut, a news industry veteran and a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, told E&P that Facebook users have made it clear they want to know what’s going on around them. Thus, it’s in Facebook’s best interest to offer people vetted information about their surroundings.

The article’s author, Rob Tornoe, goes on to explore the specifics of Facebook’s news initiatives. These include an accelerator program to help publishers expand subscriptions and memberships. The program was piloted on large metro newspapers and has received rave reviews, Tornoe reports. The Denver Post reported a 172 percent jump in digital subscriptions after completing the program.

I don’t have access to this seemingly magical recipe yet, but it can’t be long before the information makes its way to even the smallest papers. And it sounds like Facebook has another effort in the works.

Writes Tornoe: “Zuckerberg surprised experts in April when he announced that Facebook was developing a new section whose sole purpose would be to curate ‘trustworthy’ news. So far, little is known about this new project, though reports peg its launch sometime by the end of this year.” 

Fingers crossed in hope, I call that good news for people who like local news.

I welcome your response to this editorial column: editor@countrymessenger.com.

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