During the last couple of months, it has become clear that Facebook aspires to become a more dominant player in the field of news. The company has taken decisive steps to boost its relevance as both a news-publishing medium and as a tool for journalists. Now, it is said to be in talks with several news organisations about producing "Facebook editions" - app-like news sites that would be featured on Facebook.
According to Forbes's Jeff Bercovici, about a dozen news outlets are participating, including CNN, the Washington Post and News Corp.'s The Daily. The first Facebook editions are due later this year, he said, possibly in September.
Bercovici didn't have information of the financial arrangements involved but noted that Facebook is already making comparable deals with TV and film studios. If these contracts give an indication of what kinds of arrangements Facebook will make with publishers, it will most likely ask for a cut of subscription and advertising revenues generated by Facebook editions. As Facebook didn't comment on the news ("We have nothing new to announce", Bercovici reported a spokeswoman saying) it is likely that those deals are currently being ironed out.
According to Bercovici, also the New York Times was asked to participate, but the newspaper decided to hold back for now, apparently due to reservations over how its Facebook editions might fit into its paywall strategy.
Bercovici also said he had understood that Google - whose newly launched Google+ has already over 10 million users, according to CEO Larry Page - is also working on a similar idea.
As Inside Facebook noted, Facebook's earlier efforts to push its new features to media companies, such as the Like button, have been successful in the main. It also pointed out that many publications already use Facebook Pages to distribute story links to news feeds, and have integrated Facebook's features into their home sites.
In contrast to news outlets' Facebook Pages, Facebook editions would most likely exist entirely within the social media platform and wouldn't redirect traffic to external sites. This way, Facebook would be able to keep its users on the site for longer times.
As Bercovici described Facebook editions as "basically, app versions" of news outlets, it seems likely that they would serve essentially as a home for news outfits on Facebook. Some news apps, such as Flipboard, use Facebook as a way to provide personalised news to readers, but instead of forming a part of personalised news stream, presumably Facebook editions will be more about offering individual news outlets a way of publishing their content on Facebook. Doubtless, knowing how important sharing content is to Facebook, Facebook editions will also feature extensive sharing capabilities.