Some outlets, including the New York Times, are also experimenting with reporting on other platforms, such as Snapchat.

Many also post videos to YouTube and in some cases embed that video on their own websites. It’s cheaper and easier than signing expensive contracts with content hosts and distributors to do essentially the same thing. But it also means ceding some control to Google, which owns YouTube.

Made for Facebook

So what would an article on Facebook look like?

We don’t need to wait for websites to start publishing directly to Facebook to find out. The massive amounts of traffic Facebook has been directing toward news websites for the past couple of years has already led to the creation of content specifically geared toward Zuckerberg’s subjects.

Articles that in the old days that would have been relegated to the “offbeat” or “oddly enough” bucket dominate new media websites. So do strong opinions. And indeed human interest stories. All of these are perfectly legitimate elements of the news. But a heavy reliance on them to generate traffic has seen these formats overwhelm many websites.

Online media frequently use third-party tools such as Crowdtangle to monitor competitors (Quartz does this) and to identify posts that are working on Facebook, sometimes with the express purpose of quickly re-writing them. Perhaps everybody (except Crowdtangle, that is) would be better off if this sort of content lived exclusively on Facebook, with proper analytics from within the social network.

A caveat to the above point is that it isn’t just clickbait, or variations on clickbait, that succeed on Facebook. To use an example from Quartz, a post headlined “Absolutely everything you need to understand what happened to the Swiss franc this week” did staggeringly well on Facebook.

Indeed, non-clickbait can succeed on Facebook. But the clickbait optimized for Facebook often won’t succeed anywhere else. So why not cut out the middle man, as Facebook suggests, and let them have it. The web would be certainly be a saner place for it.

The fear remains that even in this scenario, Facebook will be able to exert an inordinate amount of power over publishers. To which I say that you are living in a fantasy world if you think for a moment that Facebook does not already exert an inordinate amount of power over publishers. The move to video is just one example of this.

Journalists, just like anyone else, can be resistant to change. Some of us lack foresight. Many of us are curmudgeonly. But all of us agree on one thing: we would like our work to be read, seen, or heard. For that to happen, we must go to where readers, viewers, and listeners gather. We cannot continue to insist they come to us. And today, that gathering place is Facebook.

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