Digital Tools to Revive and Inspire the Journalism Industry


The Background

Facebook desired a better way of connecting with journalists—but knew that they were unlikely to trust the tech giant following the mass misinformation distributed on the platform during both Brexit and the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

In response, they initiated the Facebook Journalism Project. The project aims to give local and community journalists and publishers the same direct, productive access to Facebook as the largest publishers in the world. Everything from outreach to investment tools are provided to enable success on the platform, as well as events, trainings, case studies and initiatives.

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The Challenge

Code and Theory's challenge was to not only reach journalists and newsroom leaders, but to nurture connections with these audiences and rebuild trust between Facebook and the industry. We wanted to specifically target audience segments whose publications could not afford a dedicated Facebook account person.


The Strategy

We analyzed the target audience of local and independent publishers.

Specifically, we found that newsrooms with fewer than 20 journalists on staff needed the most help in these areas:

  • Engaging their audiences at social scale
  • Benchmarking competitors and identifying learnings from their successes
  • Efficiently investing in social platforms, given their small teams
  • Reaching, engaging and targeting hard-to-reach readers
  • Leveraging analytics to drive page growth

We determined transformation to be a critical success metric for our audience.

The business of journalism—driving increased readership, creating video content, monetizing on social, even building brand loyalty—has become primarily digital. And smaller outlets still don’t know how to effectively adapt.

We partnered with the Facebook Journalism Project team for over a year.

We collaborated to:

  1. Architect an immersive central hub, with bold imagery, inventive features and a strong editorial slant
  2. Design a site that quickly and clearly communicates the mission of the Facebook Journalism Project while enticing readers to delve deeper into the content
  3. Create the digital hub where journalists and publishers can go to learn from others’ successes through engaging and instructional case studies

We created marquee instructional content to attract and compel our target audience.

We developed five case studies that demonstrate the tangible value of the Facebook Journalism Project. Each is focused on a news outlet that once struggled to find footing in digital media, but by leveraging the tools and access the program affords are now held up by industry leaders (i.e. the New York Times, The Pulitzer Foundation, The Lenfest Institute etc.) as major success stories.

We created elegant long-form content intended for deep-dive education.

We developed three playbooks, designed as in-depth editorial content, that journalists and publishers can study to gain expertise in key areas: monetization, election coverage, and audience growth.

We created highly-stylized modules for quick, factual reference.

We designed an infographic template intended for modular use across the platform to recap key learnings in both case studies and playbooks. This work allows our target demographic to quickly identify facts and instructions that are fundamental to both the platform and their growth.

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The Results

The site had a soft launch in April 2019, and the response has been stellar. The client has been using it primarily as a tool to successfully drive increased registration for their on-the-ground training, as well as a tool to rebuild credibility with this audience.

A hard launch is planned for 2020 where journalists and news publishers will be introduced to the new case studies, playbooks and infographic template by way of increased advertising and comms from both the Facebook Journalism Project directly, as well as from Facebook itself.

Thrilled with the work we’ve created, the client asked us to expand our thinking and help brand the Facebook Journalism Project prior to their 2020 hard launch.

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