New Zealand News Media Company Stuff Rejects Facebook : The Indicator from Planet Money Many media outlets think they need to be on Facebook to reach people. So why did New Zealand's biggest news publisher decide to go it alone?

Facebook And The News: It's Complicated

Facebook And The News: It’s Complicated

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LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images
(LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images)
LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images

The relationship between Facebook and the news industry has been pretty rocky over the past decade or so.

Last month, those tensions spilled over into a dramatic showdown in Australia: for a couple days, no one in there could post or even see any news articles on the social network. The company cut off news because the country was getting ready to pass a law that would force big online platforms, including Facebook, to pay publishers for that news content. Eventually, the Australian government relented and made some changes to the law, and Facebook turned the news back on.

This fight is not over, though. Other countries, including the U.S., are looking at similar legislation. Why is this happening? The news business is in real financial trouble, in part because so many advertising dollars now go to Facebook and Google. At the same time, many news outlets feel they need to be on Facebook to reach readers. But, there is a mismatch of incentives. Facebook's business depends on getting people to spend time on its social apps, so it can sell ads. Some of those people might be reading the news — but ultimately, Facebook's purpose is not to inform the public — it's to keep its business growing. Some publishers feel like they have had to turn over power to a company that does not always share their mission or values.

This all raises the question: is it possible for the news business to break up with Facebook? On The Indicator, NPR technology correspondent Shannon Bond joins us to talk with a publisher in New Zealand who is doing just that.

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