January 6, 2017 Last Updated 2:23 pm

Campbell Brown, former CNN anchor, to lead Facebook’s News Partnerships team

Facebook had advertised in December for someone to lead a team that would ‘manage relationships with news organizations; develop strategies and programs that foster greater collaboration and alignment between Facebook and news organizations’

The social network Facebook recently said it wanted to hire on a head of news partnerships who would lead a team that would, the company said, “help publishers and journalists understand how to reach and engage their audiences, and to innovate with new technologies.” Today, Campbell Brown, former CNN anchor said via her own Facebook page that she will lead that team.

“This month I will be joining Facebook to lead its News Partnerships team,” Brown said. “This is a different role for me, but one where I will be tapping my newsroom experience to help news organizations and journalists work more closely and more effectively with Facebook. I will be working directly with our partners to help them understand how Facebook can expand the reach of their journalism, and contribute value to their businesses. That also means making sure there is ongoing feedback from publishers as Facebook develops new products and tools for news organizations.”

Since leaving CNN, Brown has been a controversial voice in education reform, arguing against teacher tenure.

Brown, 48, grew up in Ferriday, Louisiana, is married to Daniel Senor, the former chief spokesperson for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, and a former advisor to Mitt Romney. She began her career in local TV and then joined NBC News is 1996 and eventually became White House correspondent. In 2008, she joined CNN and hosted the show Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull but left CNN in 2010.


That Facebook decided to go with a television celebrity for the position is a little concerning, but maybe the social network simply saw the job as involving public relations with media executives.

What is needed is someone who has a track record of being able to manage between two sets of interests – it is why I saw the position as perfect for someone who had experience as a publisher. That is, an actual publisher, someone who had had to manage the interests of editorial and the business side. The two interests here at odds being Facebook’s desire to lure media partners so as to add content and drive traffic, and publisher’s desire to drive traffic and monetize that traffic without also losing control over its content and readership.

Obviously, I am biased in this regard, and recognize that the job description did seem to imply that the position is one that is designed to lure publishers to use Facebook more, not to help publishers deal with the insular world of the big techs.

That position, it seems, has yet to be created. But there is a huge need for someone to fill that role, especially at a company like Apple, who once again has acted in such a way as to increase fear among its publishing partners that it does not have their best interests at heart and only acts to promote its own business interests (and in a short-sighted way, at that).

That others may see this hiring as a nod to conservatives (Brown has connections to anti-public education crusader Betsy DeVos who is pegged to be education secretary in the new Trump administration), will be inevitable (The Intercept was quick to go there). But that is to be seen. But if true, it would be deeply disappointing and only convince many in the media that Facebook was never very serious about making this position one that would be truly useful for its publishing partners.

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