Washington Post confirms it is in talks with Facebook about giving it newsfeed content

Hills addressing INMA in New York

Hills addressing INMA World Congress in New York

The boss of the Washington Post has confirmed that the publisher is in talks with social media giant Facebook about giving it content to put in its newsfeed.

Speaking at the International News Media Association (INMA) World Congress overnight Steve Hills, president and general manager of the Washington Post, noted concerns about the move but said they were in talks with Facebook to try and make it work.

“This is going to be my politician’s answer: which is that Facebook is a very important partner,” said Hills. “We will talk to them about it because they generate a lot of traffic – so we will have those discussions.”

Asked what the “red lines” were for him in the negotiations with the social giant, amid a climate of publisher concern about the move, he added: “I’m not going to tell you the red lines publicly.

“That’s not how you negotiate, but there are interesting discussions and the chance for mutual discovery – we are working with them to figure out how it might work and see if it can succeed.”

Yesterday newspaper executives at the INMA were warned by futurist Ross Dawson that handing over their content to the social media giant to use in its newsfeed may well see them “giving them your future”.

Among the publishers thought to be in discussions with Facebook about the move are a number of global brands, including The New York Times, BuzzFeed and National Geographic.

The move is also coming at a time when publishers are complaining about a drop in traffic from Facebook that could be attributed to the company’s prioritising of video advertising, which is a more lucrative medium for ad sales.

Nic Christensen in New York

Update 10.45am: New York Magazine reports that last today, Australian time, the New York Times is expected to officially begin a partnership with Facebook to publish articles directly to the social media giant making it the first publisher to do such a deal.


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