Small publishers welcome Facebook’s news reversal, with questions

Less than a week after Australian users woke up to find that news content had been removed from their Facebook news feeds, Facebook has announced it will reinstate news.

Small publishers, community organisations and individual news presenters were all impacted by the decision by Facebook, and are pleased to see that the government and Facebook have come to an understanding on the News Media Bargaining Code that prompted the social giant to revert.

Urban List founder and CEO Susannah George was one of the many independent publishers caught in the cross fire by the Facebook vs Australian Government stoush.

Susannah George, Urban List

“I’m both relieved to see it reinstated and excited by the conversation that has emerged over the last four days. This announcement is a huge win for the vibrancy of the Australian media landscape and it is particularly encouraging to see Facebook’s VP of global news partnerships, Campbell Brown, specifically call out their intent to support small and local publishers.

“Diversity of voices is vital to Australia’s cultural fabric — diversity driven by the home-grown, digital-first publishers that champion our small businesses, events, tourism and arts scene. These are the very same businesses that have been hit hardest by the past 12 months and who desperately need support.”

Rebecca Wilson, CEO of Starts at 60, who penned a piece for Mumbrella on the removal of news from Facebook adds: “We are thrilled to see Facebook will return to publishing Australian news and to hear rumours of Facebook deals with specific publishers, but we still have very little insight into what the terms are that the Federal Government agreed in order to have ended the stand-off.”

For a publisher such as Starts at 60, the key issue will be whether Google, Facebook and the Federal Government have created a “level playing field” for small and medium-sized digital publishers to be able to continue in business and access fair and comparable scale deals.

“…the larger and more traditional media companies have clearly been at the centre of considerations so far and will have even greater unfair advantage if negotiations don’t filter down to a more diverse range of publishers,” she said.

Founding editor of Women’s Agenda and head of Agenda Media, Angela Priestley, said the company has had “very preliminary conversations” with Facebook and Google.

“We’re relieved to see that some kind of agreement has been reached and hope that all parties will recognise the importance of independent media and smaller publishers like ourselves. They must ensure there are not only safeguards in place to protect smaller publishers, but also provisions to further develop the journalism and media diversity this segment of the industry offers.

“We’ve always considered ourselves to be a newsletter-first publishing business and this period has been an excellent reminder on the importance of the work we’ve put into delivering quality newsletters to our audience every day.”


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