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Facebook and journalism

Poynter Online has satisfied its new-found Facebook obsession with a series of articles that examine the intersection between journalism and the social-networking platform.

First it was Friendster, then it was MySpace; now Facebook seems to be the center of every other conversation on the Internet. Several of the writers at Poynter Online (a resource that puports to be "Everything you need to be a better journalist") have recently been focusing on the possibilities for Facebook in terms of the news business.

In one article Pat Walters reports on how he created the Facebook group, Journalists and Facebook as a sort of experiment.
What better way to report on Facebook, than to use Facebook? We invited about 25 journalists to join the group, posted a few questions to the discussion board and waited.

Seemed to make perfect sense.

By the time we posted this story on Poynter Online, the group had mushroomed to more than 800 members, journalists and non-journalists from all over the world.
At this moment there are almost 1,800 members, but only 57 wall posts, and 22 discussion threads. In his article, Walters points out that this limited participation in the group isn't unusual and he references an article by Jakob Nielsen to illustrate this phenomena. In his article, Nielsen predicts that only one percent of any given group will create most of the content, and after a cursory glance at the Journalists and Facebook group that estimate appears to be roughly on target.

Another recent article on Poynter about Facebook is Amy Gahran's piece about the expanding realm of news applications on Facebook. While most simply provide headlines, some go beyond this basic feed functionality and offer custom tailored apps designed for Facebook's younger demographic. Gahran also writes about how the student newspaper The Minaret at the University of Tampa is using Facebook to recruit news students to join the paper.

It's clear that Facebook is a hot site right now, but is it just the latest and greatest in a continuing evolution of social networking Web sites in which the previous incarnation is quickly forgotten? It's hard to say, but with the continuous release of new Facebook applications it seems like Facebook's role in our online lives can continue to evolve as well. I've known people who only use Facebook for messaging and have abandoned e-mail entirely so it's anyone's guess what things will look like in the future.