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Facebook & Journalism: The Influence of Facebook on the News

How many of us wake up in the morning, pick up our smartphones, and turn to Facebook? Ok, maybe you wait until you get to work or get a cup of coffee. In any case, if you look at Facebook daily, you’re not alone. There are more than 2.13 billion active Facebook users worldwide and 1.40 billion of them log on daily, according to Zephoria’s February 2018 update on Facebook statistics.

With so many of us checking in on our newsfeed regularly, it’s no surprise that Facebook’s influence on the news is huge and fraught with controversy. Here we consider how Facebook users are shaped by — and help to shape — the news.

Facebook’s power to affect politics and your emotions.

The mainstream media notoriously underestimated Donald Trump’s possibilities for winning the presidency in the weeks and months leading up to the 2016 election. And during that time, so much conspiracy and misinformation circulated on Facebook, that some observers wonder if Facebook should not shoulder some blame for allowing or missing fake news.

One such story, found in the “Trending News” section of Facebook in September from fictional WTOE 5 News, claimed that Pope Francis had endorsed Trump. Another from the fake Denver Guardian, published just days before the election, claimed that an FBI agent connected to leaks of Clinton’s emails was involved in a murder-suicide, the Deseret News reported shortly after the election, and they drew connections between the great influence Facebook could potentially have on voters, and the emotional effect it proved to have just a few years earlier.

For a week in 2012 Facebook “tinkered with users’ emotions,” according to a 2014 NY Times article. Whether Facebook was justified in its experiment or not, the results showed pretty convincingly, and not particularly surprisingly, that when shown negative content in their newsfeed, people felt worse, and when shown positive content, they felt better.

Is Facebook’s news really news?

Although Facebook is not a news site, it provides a forum for people to share the stories that excite and titillate, inflame or give smiles. Perhaps a problem is that hard news stories have to compete with weddings and funerals, cat pics and endless fun activities like seeing what you’d look like if you were a person of the opposite sex. Yet, is that so different from traditional news outlets?

“Entertainment was beating up on news long before Zuckerberg was born,” this Atlantic article reminds us. “The back sections of the newspaper have long cross-subsidized the foreign coverage of the A-section.” However, in traditional print, even if we bought the paper for the funnies or sports, we could hardly fail to notice what the publishers had decided were the day’s headlines.

With Facebook, we train our newsfeed to show us what we want to see, by liking, commenting and sharing, so we have the power to make our newsfeed truly newsy. “You can hide your most frivolous friends, follow the Facebook page of every national newspaper, and share every NBC News link that comes your way,” The Atlantic reminds us. “But you don’t.”

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Why not?

Now, Facebook is looking to better identify what is actually “news” by establishing a curated “breaking news” tab in Watch. It will feature content generated by Facebook’s news partners, and Facebook and those partners will split any revenue. That’s important, because you can’t just give content away. (Does GM give you a free car?) You somehow have to monetize it, while at the same time facing up to the perceived responsibility social media has for somehow mitigating news trolls…

Do you want to be a maker of news instead of just a consumer? Check out NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism program to learn more.

Social Media Mistakes Actors Make

With 2.07 billion active users on Facebook, 330 million on Twitter, and 467 million on LinkedIn, many aspiring and established actors are promoting their work on social media sites.

If you’re hoping to utilize your social media accounts to make new connections and build a fanbase as a professional actor, you’ll have to engage with people on one or more social media site.

With that said, many of us are warned about the potential pitfalls of social media As an aspiring actor, you’ll want to be on top of your game when promoting yourself on social media because each decision you make can impact your acting career significantly.

Want to be ahead of the game? Follow these seven tips and tricks to help create a lasting social media presence.

1) Start Small

There are many different social media platforms, but that doesn’t mean you need to have a presence on all of them. Start with one or two you are familiar with and build your presence on those accounts.

For example, start off by creating your Facebook fan page or Twitter handle. Take the time to learn tricks and techniques that will help you grow a following on those sites before adding another.

2) Stay Away From Controversy

Don’t post anything lewd, crude, or otherwise inappropriate. You are trying to be marketable and professional. Causing controversy results in neither of those things.

Stick by this golden rule: if you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see it, you probably shouldn’t post it. If you’re not sure about a post, get a few opinions from friends and colleagues

3) Remember to Do Basic Grammar Checks

Everyone occasionally makes mistakes, but constant misspellings or incorrect grammar could distract from your acting chops. Remember, if you want someone to take your acting seriously, you have to consider every post you make as a reflection of your professional self.

Remember to carefully proofread your posts and have another person take a glance as well.

4) Mix It Up

Don’t just post all text posts or constantly show off videos. Give your audience variety with text, picture, and video posts. All fans like something different — some may enjoy videos, some pictures, and some may like a little bit of everything.

Make sure you take the time to create fun and engaging posts of all types for the best results.

5) Make Your Posts Meaningful

Don’t post something just to post!

First, consider how meaningful your post is to your “brand.” Does it benefit you or your target audience? Does it contribute something unique and essential to your brand? If not, then don’t post something as filler.

6) Don’t Leave People in the Dark!

While you shouldn’t post something for the sake of posting something, you also don’t want to abandon your social media presence for weeks or months at a time.

Make a regular schedule to commit yourself to and make sure your followers are aware of when new posts will appear.

7) It’s Not All About You

Believe it or not, it’s actually helpful to not talk about yourself all of the time.  Sure, you need to be comfortable with promoting yourself, but you also don’t want to come off as egotistical. People enjoy seeing actors who are compassionate , hardworking, and human.

Brag about your latest role, but also praise fellow actors and productions you recently enjoyed.

 

Looking for a more permanent boost to your acting portfolio? Browse our acting program and other areas of study.

Virtual Reality Evolution in 2017

Virtual Reality has made its presence known in the world of technology, and it’s building up to something big: a virtual reality evolution is in store in 2017. High image resolution systems like HTC’s Vive and Facebook’s Oculus Rift are pitted against more affordable systems such as Google’s Daydream and Samsung’s Gear VR. Vive and Rift allow semi-permanent installation, while Daydream View and GearVR allow users to carry VR with them for interactive, personal experiences. And 2017 may prove to be a year of paradigm shifts and major change in the world of VR.

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Google’s Daydream View and Oculus’ follow up to the Samsung Gear VR, which is powered by Oculus, will need to deliver the same anticipation, if not more, that previous VR systems delivered in the past year. The technology industry also needs people — who may not be technology savvy — to buy into VR.

Mark Zuckerberg paid $2 billion for Oculus, hailing VR as a new communication platform. So it may not come as a surprise if VR changes the social landscape in 2017. It appears that Zuckerberg didn’t purchase Oculus Rift to get a foot into the gaming industry; instead he is interested on focusing on something else entirely.

In a post announcing the acquisition of the Oculus VR, Zuckerberg wrote, ““Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home.”

There is also a good possibility that people will be open to new opportunities and social communities through VR, ranging from activities such as drone racing to sports, including soccer, basketball and ice hockey.

AppReal predicts that there will be more than 43 million people using VR at the beginning of 2017. As VR continues to grow, developers will have two 3D engines to choose from — Unity and Unreal Engine.  But which one is the right VR development platform?

Google Daydream is one the most anticipated systems to bring VR to the majority of people due to its affordable hardware and its accessibility. Anyone with a smartphone will have access to VR content through systems such as Google Daydream.

In 2016, the inaugural VR cinema made waves in Amsterdam and it’s estimated that similar cinemas around the world will rise in 2017. Filmmakers are already using VR to do extensive pre-visualization for “live action” CGI augmented films. That’s generally included under the VFX heading. And of course, VFX are ubiquitous in games as well.

The dawn of wireless headsets is finally here and gone are the days of being tethered. The cord – considered an annoyance by most that have tried tethered VR – carries high-speed graphics to ensure a quality experience. But with wireless headsets, advanced Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities will be able to deliver the same high-speed graphics. Regardless of what happens this year, 2017 will be a pivotal and perhaps decisive year for virtual reality.

How do you think VR applications will evolve in 2017? Let us know in the comments below!

How Facebook Live Will Impact Broadcast Journalism — And How You Can Take Advantage of It

The rise of social media has had a permanent impact on the craft of journalism. More articles are being circulated than ever before, viewer criticism is on the rise, and the danger of “fake news” has made social media both a curse and a blessing for journalists. One of the most recent impacts on journalism is the rise of Facebook Live, a feature of the social media site that allows users to stream a live video to viewers. It is used more and more by journalists, celebrities, and even politicians as a way to connect with their audience in real time. The feature also allows viewers to comment on the video and displays how many people are viewing the video as it happens.

Large TV networks and the news departments at local stations are increasingly using Facebook Live because that’s where the millennial audience is. For freelance and independent journalists, Facebook Live is their “transmitter,” allowing them to compete for viewers without investing millions of dollars on technical infrastructure. Like any skill, successfully covering a “live” event takes practice. Inevitably the first few attempts will be rough. But over time, you can begin developing the necessary abilities. One way to speed up that process is to attend a broadcast journalism school like the New York Film Academy, which specializes in helping students develop their storytelling and journalism skills.

With the popularity of Facebook Live, it is important for broadcast journalists to take advantage of this new technology. The broadcast can become more spontaneous, interactive, and entertaining. Furthermore the Facebook page is likely to have more user traffic at any given time. But it is important to know the best ways to utilize this tool before hitting that “Go Live” button.

How can you use Facebook Live to your advantage? Luckily Facebook has tons of tips on the best way to go live and get those views. We’ve summarized some helpful hints, below:

Before Recording

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Ready, set, LIVE!

According to Facebook, preparing for the live stream is just as important as the live stream itself. Make sure you tell your viewers you are going live beforehand. This gives them time to be ready to view the video and also builds anticipation for the event.

Ensure that you have a strong Wi-Fi connection. You run the risk of losing viewers if your feed goes out or lags during the stream.

Also make sure that your viewers will be able to hear you. Whether you are recording a speech, event, protest, or a simple Q&A at your desk, test the area to make sure there is no sound interference. You can do a test live recording by changing the share options to “Only Me.” This will allow you to use the live feature, but you will be the only one to see it. After recording, check the archived video to listen for any issues like traffic or a noisy AC unit.

During Recording

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Is this thing on?

Decide if you are going to answer questions during the recording. Viewers’ comments will appear next to you on the screen. Encourage people to ask questions and participate in the conversation.

Remember to smile and be relaxed during the recording. Because you are live and could potentially have thousands of eyes on you, it is easy to get stage fright. Acting comfortable and personable during the broadcast is important to make the viewers feel comfortable watching you. If you do suffer from stage fright, look up some relaxation techniques to do before you go live.

After Recording

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You’re done! Now what do you do?

Your video will be archived and posted on your Facebook page with the title that you “were live.” Update the description, thanking everyone for viewing and encourage them to follow you. This way they will be notified the next time you go live. Use this time to answer any questions you didn’t get to (if you are answering questions).

You are also able to check the stats for you video afterwards. Facebook has options for you to view peak live viewers, minutes viewed, 10 second views, and more. Use this data to find out how well you did and what you can do better the next time you go live.

Happy broadcasting! Have you shared any broadcasts via Facebook Live? Let us know in the comments below!

Measuring Viewer Impact With Social Media Tools

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It’s no secret that increasing numbers of Americans across all demographics are obtaining news from social media—mostly Facebook and Twitter. According to a July study from the Pew Research Center and the Knight Foundation, sixty-three percent of both Facebook and Twitter users find news on these networks. Compared to 2013, Twitter saw an 11% increase up from 52%, and Facebook was up 16% from 47%. While both networks have experienced similar increases, almost twice as many users rely on Twitter (59%) to follow breaking news, with 31% of Facebook users depending on the network for breaking news.

Tracking Impact with Social Media Tools

Many broadcast journalists are using social media tools to track the impact of their stories on social networks—not just how many people click a link or watch a video, but demographic information as well.

Facebook Insights, available to any business/public figure page with at least 30 likes, provides percentages of users who like your page for age and gender groupings, pulling the data from personal profiles. Geographical data is also useful for local television stations—city data allows a station to see where most of their followers are located. Meanwhile, TweetReach allows businesses to see who retweets their content.

Making Sense of It All

How to use this data? Facebook Insights and TweetReach can be compared to other data, such as Nielsen ratings. Do television viewers skew older or more toward a certain city in the viewing area than Facebook data? What does that mean?

Helping Advertisers Make Smart Decisions

Interpreting these differences can be tricky, but it can lead to a broader understanding of the station’s viewership. An older audience in Nielsen ratings can mean that younger viewers prefer getting their news online—but they can still be reached with ads on the station’s website, or pre-roll ads on video posted to Facebook. You can use this information to help clients make informed decisions about how they advertise with your station—and if you help them get better results, they’re more likely to place ads with your station in the future.

Social media tools can also impact which stories you post or promote on social networks. It may turn out that viewers who get most of their news from television love your station’s weekly gardening segment or economic report, but people following your station’s Twitter feed are more interested in sports scores. Meanwhile, Facebook users might be more interested in your political coverage. If that’s true, you might post or promote more stories about local candidates on Facebook and show more coverage of the local football team on Twitter.

Learning From Targeted Social Media Ads

Both Facebook and Twitter allow businesses to pay for ads or promoted content. You can see which posts were shared or re-tweeted the most to determine what kinds of stories to promote on the network. Choosing who sees your ads based on age, gender or interests is another benefit.

The key with both networks is to focus on fluidity in your campaigns. You might have a good idea of the target market you want for a story, ad for your station, etc. But audiences are fickle, especially in a fast-changing environment like Twitter and, to a lesser extent, Facebook. You should always start with the best and most specific target audience possible, based on any previous research you have.

But resist the urge to choose “women in their forties who enjoy golf and travel,” set up the campaign, and forget it. Look at your numbers every week—or every few days, if time permits. Who shared each story? Did some videos get more shares than expected—or significantly less? Who is actually retweeting your content? Should you be investigating another demographic instead? What if women in their twenties end up retweeting more of your stories than women in their forties, even though Nielsen ratings suggest your viewers skew older? Should you focus on a different group with your online promotion efforts while continuing to cater to your television audience with the stories they want to see?

It’s also important to look at results over time. Just because a subject is hotly debated on social media one week doesn’t mean anyone will want to share a post about it next week. People burn out quickly on popular news stories—and nowhere is that more true than the internet. Looking at your metrics each day can show you when it’s time to start posting or promoting something else.

Experimenting with New Segments or Topics

Tracking what stories are shared the most and by who also provides valuable insight about where you should focus your energy—and how. Maybe a new segment on the news isn’t holding viewers’ attention—but Twitter followers rapidly retweet the video. You can reduce the amount of time in the newscast that you devote to a segment or topic—for example, making it a weekly segment instead of a daily one, or once a month instead of weekly—while frequently posting or promoting the segment video on social media after it airs. Cutting-room-floor type footage can be shared on social networks as fun extras, without giving the segment more time during the newscast.

Learn more about the School of Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.