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August 20, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 8:14am

Facebook hiring ‘small team’ of journalists ahead of US news tab launch

By Charlotte Tobitt

Facebook has revealed plans to hire journalists to curate a news tab on the platform which is set to launch in the US this autumn.

The social network began advertising today for roles in a “small team” of journalists who will select relevant national news stories, including breaking news, to populate the “Top News” section of the tab.

The staff will be based in New York, London and Menlo Park in California to provide round-the-clock coverage, but it is not yet known how many hires will be made in each office.

The new staff will not be editing headlines or stories or writing their own content and the stories they select will appear alongside content chosen by an algorithm.

Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of global news partnerships, said: “Our goal with the news tab is to provide a personalised, highly relevant experience for people.

“The majority of stories people will see will appear in the tab via algorithmic selection. To start, for the Top News section of the tab we’re pulling together a small team of journalists to ensure we’re highlighting the right stories.”

Reports have suggested the new team of journalists will number fewer than ten and will be based mostly in the US with one staff member in London. This compares to a 30-strong curation team at rival Apple News.

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Facebook would not comment on planned team sizes.

Job descriptions for the news curator roles call for “experienced journalists” with at least five years of work experience and “sound news judgment and a passion for breaking news”.

As well as curating stories, staff would be called to “develop strategy and create plans for news events, analyse data to inform news strategy, and collaborate with our product teams to improve user experience and internal tools”.

Press Gazette understands Facebook is currently focused on the US launch of the news tab and there are no details about its possible release elsewhere.

The algorithm choosing most of the stories for the news tab will use signals such as what pages users follow, any publishers they tell Facebook they subscribe to, and what news they already share or interact with on the platform.

Facebook confirmed earlier this month it was working on the news tab but would not comment on reports that it is in talks with publishers to offer millions of dollars for the rights to publish their material on its site.

In June 2018 Facebook removed its former trending news section after four years to make way for “future news experiences”.

The section accounted for less than 1.5 per cent of clicks to news publishers and had only been rolled out to five countries, including the UK.

Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

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