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Facebook claims lack of local news hindered media project in US

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Last year, Facebook had launched its media project called ‘Today In’ which is currently available in around four hundred cities in the USA. However, its efforts to establish a local news and information service for its users is being hindered by the sheer lack of outlets where original reporting can be found by the technicians. Now, Facebook is claiming that 40% of Americans are living in locations where there isn’t enough local news and original stories to cover and support it.

In light of this new data, Facebook announced on Monday that it will be sharing its research with the academics at Harvard, Duke, North Carolina and Minnesota who are already studying about the depth of news deserts which are created by newspapers shutting down and staff downsizing. According to the University of North Carolina, approximately 1800 newspapers have shut shop in the US alone in the past 15 years. Employment in the newsroom has fallen by 45% as the industry is struggling with an out of order business model. The main reason behind this is the success of companies which have a strong online presence and thrive on the Internet, including Facebook.

Today In collects news stories from local outlets as well as government and community groups. However, the company has found there have been more than a few ‘communities’ where the technicians couldn’t find at least five news items or stories in a single day within a month. Due to the lack of wide geographical disparity affecting the availability of news, experts believe that there is a severe dearth of original, local reporting. Data collected by Facebook and research academics might be helpful in leading to some ideas or solutions. Facebook also plans to award around 100 grants to those who are working to make more news available.

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