Facebook ajakirjandusliku funktsiooni täitjana päevalehtede toimetajate arvates
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The aim of this thesis was to find out why Estonian dailies have chosen to enter Facebook. Moreover it aims to understand how they perceive their role and activities in Facebook and to what extent they relate them to the traditional roles of journalism. What is more, this thesis reseaches what principles the dailies have set for themselves in Facebook, what their aims are and with whom they communicate. Seven interviews with the editors of the dailies Eesti Päevaleht, Postimees and Õhtuleht were conducted. Throughout the thesis the answers of the interviewees were compared to each other and to the theoretical knowledge. The interviews revealed that the dailies perceive the roles of journalism as complex bundles of instructions and tasks. Furthermore, intuition plays a much more important role than fixed rules. The responsibilities of journalism evolve in time and adapt with the development of technologies. Still, all the different roles of journalism should be considered equally. The interviews also revealed an opinion that the completion of different tasks may be divided between different channels of communication of the same newspaper. While in general, the opion of the interviewees about the traditional roles of journalism coincided with theoretical knowledge, another important responsibility was mentioned – improving the cohesion of the society. On the other hand, no conflict between offering the audience the information that they like and the information that they need was detected. Still, the role of Facebook as primarily a journalistic executor was not detected. The dailies have not considered the channel as a means of completing their journalistic roles and functions, but on the other hand, do think that attracting a large number of readers serves for such purpose. The dailies entered Facebook when they understood that Facebook was becoming a primary source of information for people. Wanting to be modern and where the people are and being afraid of losing its position as a primary news provider, the dailies decided to follow the example of many enterprises before them. At first it was perceived only as marketing and the responsibilities of journalism were not consiously taken into account. Now, the newspapers concentrate on providing information and articles of quality and also wish to strengthen their brand, find new readers but keep the old by communicating with them. Furthermore, they sense the opportunity of legitimizing and improving the reputation of their online-newspaper. Nevertheless, newspapers rather test the cannel than create and execute real strategies. They wish to achieve a number of goals, but are not quite sure how to get there. Moreover, the interviewees thought that they cannot be limited with a narrow target group in Facebook and prefer to offer something for everyone. On the other hand, the problem, whether it is posible to attract new readers in great numbers and provide traditional values to the already loyal ones, was recognized. The interviewees also admitted that newspapers should communicate more interactively with their readers on Facebook, but said that at the moment there is not enough resources or it has not been thought through properly. They also mentioned a number of results that are being measured but do not put too much importance on them or on what they could mean. One of the reasons for that is the insecurity about the future of Facebook. The newspapers are afraid that Facebook will suffer an abrupt downfall that cannot be predicted and a new solution will take its place. That is why they prefer to act cautiously and follow the example of the others rather than experiment freely and creatively. But creativity, transparency and thinking everything through thoroughly could be the necessary traits that would help the newspapers get to the next level in Facebook communication. The potential has been spotted by everyone, now it would be the time to overcome the fears for the future and put more thought behind the actions. Also, the dailies should try to look at the matter from the perspective of the reader – what does he want? What does he need? Only this way is it posible to get the readers that are already fans to be as loyal as it is needed, so that even when Facebook does become the thing of the past and a new medium takes its place, the readers look up their favourite news provider to continue following it in another medium or page. This will be the case only if the newspaper is already perceived and trusted as a reliable news provider that has proved that it can adapt efficently to new technologies without losing its core values, proffessionalism and attractiveness.
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