Facebook Is Testing a Separate Destination for Local News in Its Mobile Apps

‘Today In’ is available in six cities

Today In provides local news, community updates, recent news, group discussions and local events
Facebook

Facebook began testing a feature aimed at providing a destination for local news, in addition to content that can already be found on News Feed and on publishers’ pages.

Mobile users in six cities—Billings, Mont.; Binghamton, N.Y.; Little Rock, Ark.; New Orleans; Olympia, Wash.; and Peoria, Ill.—may start seeing alerts guiding them to the feature, which is called “Today In,” or they can access the feature via their More menus.

Today In—the latest initiative from the Facebook Journalism Project—provides local news and other information including community updates, recent news, group discussions and local events, and content included in the section comes from local publishers that are selected via algorithm and by the social network’s news partnership team.

That team is led by former NBC News and CNN anchor Campbell Brown, who joined the company last January.

It is not a curated section, but the goal is to make sure local publishers that should be included make the cut.

Facebook said it will explore rolling out Today In to additional cities.

The social network would not comment on potential advertising opportunities within the section or for local publishers that are involved, except to say that publishers already using its Instant Articles quick-loading rich-media format will have the same monetization opportunities as they do for Instant Articles published via their pages.

Facebook launched the Facebook Journalism Project exactly one year ago Thursday with the goal of strengthening its relationships with media and news organizations and journalists, and local news initiatives it has spearheaded include:

  • April’s addition of call-to-action units to Instant Articles, which Facebook said are currently driving more than 25,000 email signups per day for publishers using the feature.
  • Facebook also announced in April that it teamed up with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation on a pilot project to bring training and support from the social network directly into the newsrooms of local and nonprofit news organizations, establishing local networks with the Knight Foundation, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, the Detroit Journalism Cooperative and Montclair State University’s Center for Cooperative Media.
  • The social network announced in October that members of the Local Media Consortium—which is made up of more than 75 local media companies representing over 1,700 digital news properties—gained access to real-time social media monitoring and tracking tools from CrowdTangle, which Facebook acquired in November 2016.
  • And in November, Facebook confirmed that it was testing a way for publishers to add a breaking news label to their posts.