With a blend of surprise, excitement and dismay did I greet the news that ABC News is collaborating with Facebook to reach the millions of mostly college-age social networkers with the news, and with news about the news.
The nut graf:
The announcement is another sign that news organizations are looking to capitalize on the potential power of Facebook, which began as a database of college friendships, and other social networking sites. Media companies like The New York Times and The Washington Post have produced pages for use on Facebook and some newspapers, magazines and television stations have recently invited users to join special pages that are set up to follow reporters’ political coverage. But ABC’s new relationship is intended to be deeper.
The surprise is that ABC News is first on Facebook’s dance card. The demographics of the two would not seem to correspond. The excitement is for what will surely be a proliferation of these kinds of marriages. The dismay is because of the fact that we, the faculty at Berry and the new media team at the local Rome News-Tribune, collaborated on a grant proposal that, among other things, would have funded an effort in Rome to leverage Facebook to reach those college students in the area who elected to receive what we produced. This would have been content created with Floyd County college students in mind. Alas, the grant did not come through, but the idea obviously had great merit.
The explosion of interest in social networking, even in and by corporate America (see this press release from a software company in California, for example), means we will see a lot more collaboration of the kind ABC and Facebook are planning. Google, for example, with its designs for the mobile phone, will need collaborations like this latest one to provide the search-and-advertising giant with content. There is a mint to be made by netentrepreneurs with ways to make these connections.
And a note about Amazon’s new Kindle e-reader. Yes, we’ve seen lots of attempts to create electronic books, since before the Internet, and they’ve all been fantastic failures. Kindle might be different, however, and certainly it represents a new generation of e-readers, a generation more in tune with the ways we like to read. So I will be watching it most closely. I have heard that it sold out in one day, but have not yet been able to confirm this.