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Facebook Co-founds Program to Help Journalists Do Their Jobs

April 11, 2017, 6:31 PM UTC

Facebook is working with the Poynter Institute, a media training organization, to help journalists make better use of the social network’s various services.

The three-course program is part of the Facebook Journalism Project announced in January which is intended to build stronger ties between the social networking giant and the news industry.

The classes are supposed to help reporters make the best use of Facebook and its Instagram photo-sharing site to distribute their work, reach their audience via Facebook Live video, and use Facebook 360 to integrate video, text and other elements for an “immersive” experience. The courses are offered via (what else?) Facebook’s Blueprint online education or elearning, service. Journalists who complete the courses get a certificate attesting to that fact.

A cynic might say Facebook is trying to score points with the media after months of being blasted for a contributing to the spread of “fake news” during the presidential campaign. It is hardly alone there. Twitter (TWTR), Google (GOOGL) and other online sites have all taken heat for not doing enough to curb the spread of spurious news from dubious sources.

Facebook and Google have also been blamed for weakening journalism because they enable so much free sharing of content paid for by mainstream media outlets. Those outlets love the clicks but the overall shift of media consumption from a very lucrative print advertising model to a less profitable online ad base has led to layoffs across the board at newspapers and magazines.

News about the program comes a week after Facebook (FB) joined the $14 million New Integrity Initiative led by Craigslist founder Craig Newmark to boost trusted journalism. This is also somewhat ironic. Craigslist, an online classifieds site, is blamed by some in the media for decimating newspaper advertising and also contributing to what many see as a crisis in journalism.

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The fact that Facebook is wooing reporters also shows that its ambitions is to become far more than a site for posting pet and vacation photos. In recent months it introduced a job site as well as Workplace, office-oriented chat and messaging software that competes with Slack and Microsoft Office Teams for business users.

LinkedIn, a business social network acquired by Microsoft (MSFT) last year for $26.2 billion, has long offered special training for journalists who want to use its service to find story sources or contacts. While LinkedIn does not offer a certificate, reporters who attend its webinar, get free access to higher-level LinkedIn services than they would without taking the course.