Using Facebook groups as a reporting tool and community home

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how Facebook has become a happier place to do journalism. Since then, the platform has rolled out the ability to search for public posts, opening doors for millions of additional sources and stories that had previously been obscured. In addition, Facebook updated its Trending feature to include posts from people on the ground of a breaking news event.

This gives me the excuse to write about a few examples of quality journalism happening on Facebook — specifically, in Facebook groups.

  • California Public Radio has built a Facebook group around their multimedia project California Burning. The group brings together scientists, first responders, policymakers and homeowners in fire-prone area. “One tip posted on the Facebook group led to a story in the series exploring how wildfires are driving up insurance costs for homeowners,” digital news producer Marnette Federis told NPR Digital Services.
  • Al Jazeera America’s Poverty Community on Facebook has become a base for those interested and passionate about poverty issues in America.
  • Here at The World, we’ve become big fans of Facebook groups and their ability to foster a passionate community. Currently we’re focused on our SafeMode community and Global Nation Exchange, which we use to post stories, participate in conversations, and watch for story ideas.
  • My work in Facebook groups was inspired by ProPublica’s Patient Harm community on Facebook, which the organization started as a place for patients who have experienced harm during medical treatment to share their experiences. The group, currently with over 2,400 members, has lived on long past Propublica’s Patient Harm series. Journalists still use the group to ask questions, find sources and test theories.
  • I also use Facebook groups to communicate with my newsroom (we have a newsroom FB group), local stations and PBS, and with other social media professionals at WGBH. (Sorry, no links — these are all private groups.)

Are there other groups doing great journalism natively on Facebook? Let me know in the comments below.


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