What Facebook’s changes could mean for our readers and what you can do


Dear Planet Princeton Readers,

You might have heard that Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook’s news feed will focus on what friends share and will de-emphasize content from publishers and businesses.

Many of our readers depend on Facebook as the main way to receive Planet Princeton news updates throughout the day. It is true that we receive a large and growing amount of traffic from other channels, including Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Reddit, Stumbledupon, Tumblr, RSS, push alerts, and the updates we send out via email. But Facebook is still a significant source of traffic, in spite of constant changes to the news feed.  With other changes in recent years, readers often have been frustrated when they don’t see our news in their feeds, or see it too late. Did you realize Facebook’s “algorithm” chooses what to show you in your news feed from your friends, family, and pages you have liked? You only see about 20 percent of what your friends and pages actually post.

The announcement from Zuckerberg about the big changes to the newsfeed was a shocker, even though publishers have been more anxious in recent months about potential changes after Facebook tested creating a separate feed for news and pages. It is fair for publishers to be upset and frustrated. Over the past year, Facebook representatives have met with journalists from many news outlets, claiming the company wants to understand journalists’ needs better and help them. I sat in such a meeting with about a dozen other publishers at Facebook’s headquarters in New York City last spring. After I vented about my concerns and frustrations, one employee was empathetic, but I also I received a few responses I felt were dismissive of my concerns.One person told me “You journalists just don’t get it. Only Buzzfeed gets it.” The main solution offered to me was to adopt Facebook’s instant articles platform. I rejected this because it seemed foolish to hand over even more control of my content to an unpredictable platform that could change the rules of the game at any time. I’m relieved now that I did.

No one really knows how Facebook’s upcoming changes will affect a publication’s traffic. Many publishers are worried that it will be a significant blow to their publications. Fortunately at Planet Princeton we have been working to build up other channels to deliver news to the community. Two additions on the horizon are an app and a text service. While we don’t have a crystal ball, the main reason we are not in a panic about Facebook’s changes is because with your help, we have built up an engaged, invested, loyal audience. Facebook claims that pages that still receive a lot of engagement in the form of comments and shares will not suffer as much from the platform’s shift to focusing on posts from family and friends. Only time will tell if this is true. Besides, Facebook can change the rules again at any time. A cynical person would say the changes are all about money and forcing more people to pay more to promote posts. These changes could hurt not only media outlets, but also local businesses already struggling to compete in the age of Amazon.

But we are hopeful that our readers will make the effort to follow us, whether it is on Facebook, some other channel, our email newsletter, or by going directly to our website. We have built up a special online community on Planet Princeton. It is not perfect, we have often stumbled along the way, and we have much to do to as we work to adapt to the changing news landscape and serve you better. It has been a worthwhile experiment, and I am glad I took the risk, in spite of all the costs to me personally, both financial and personal. The only way publishers will adapt to the new online media world is to experiment, fail, adapt and try again. That’s how innovation works. For me, this has been a risk worth taking for the community I love and for the future of local journalism. As recent political events show, the future of our democracy depends on us all figuring out how to make news gathering and reporting – independent reporting done without fear or favor – a sustainable venture.

My request to you, the reader who is an important part of the online community we have built up, is to not be passive about your media consumption. Don’t let Facebook make all the decisions for you about what information you consume. When it comes to Planet Princeton, please make sure you are connected in ways that will guarantee that you receive our updates and that you can communicate with us and send us your news. We receive so many helpful news tips from our readers via Facebook messages, Twitter direct messages, emails, text messages and phone calls.

Following are things you can do to make sure you receive our new updates:

1.If you continue to depend on Facebook for Planet Princeton posts,  go to our Facebook page and choose “See First” in news feed preferences to make sure you always see posts. (There are three tabs directly under the main photo for a page – like, follow and share. If you hover over the follow tab, select “see first” from the menu.)

2.Follow Planet Princeton on Twitter. Our handle is @Planetprinceton. In the upper right corner next to following you will see three little dots to set “more user actions.” You can select “turn on mobile notifications” if you want our alerts and posts delivered to your phone via Twitter.

3.Follow us on other social media channels like Google+ and LinkedIn.

4.Become an email subscriber. We send out a regular email up to once a day with links to all our post headlines so that you never miss a post. We promise we won’t SPAM you. You can scan the headlines, click on the stories you want to read and skip the headlines you are not interested in. Sometimes we post additional information in our newsletter under the links as well. You can subscribe here.

5.Opt in to push notifications on your web browser. There is an icon in the lower right corner of your web browser where you can chose to receive push notifications. Whenever we post a story, a little bubble will appear in your web browser that includes the headline. You can click to read the story or shut the window and ignore it. You can also disable the notifications from your computer at any time by clicking in the same area. Because this is browser based, it is configured on your computer. We don’t have any control over subscribing or unsubscribing you. Also, if you have more than one computer, please be aware that you would need to opt in on each device. We will be adding mobile push capability in the near future.

6.Use a free RSS reader  like Feedly to receive all of our RSS updates. We will also be coming to Apple News soon.

7. Visit our website directly every day by going to planetprinceton.com. Add it to your browser’s bookmark bar.

If you have any other suggestions feedback, or questions, email editor@planetprinceton.com. Thank you again for your continued support and readership.



If you would like to support our work, become a subscribing member here. You can support us with a subscription just like you would subscribe to other news publications and magazines. Reader support is one of the main ways Planet Princeton has been able to continue publishing over the last several months. We are grateful for all the readers who have chosen to subscribe. We are also grateful to the advertisers from our local community. If you have ideas to help raise funds to support our work, don’t hesitate to contact us. More support would mean we could hire more writers, and a calendar editor so I can use my time doing more investigative work.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.


  1. Krystal — ‘Planet Princeton’ is one of the best local micro-news services I’ve seen anywhere. Congratulations on what you’ve built and maintain every day. Its an invaluable source of local content for so many.

    Its regrettable that consumers abdicate more and more of their attention to Facebook (Twitter, for its mentions by the media, in fact has had almost zero user growth and declining engagement for the last several years, and its influence as a “push” platform is greatly overstated, in my opinion).

    I would very highly recommend that you “double-down” on a couple things with your focus:

    * Bring the Facebook “See First” messaging, somehow, into every page of content in a much more prominent way. It seems so critical, I would find a way to get it into your persistent page header / top navigation menu. Every chance that you have, maybe even embedded at the end of your posts, I would take to message that.

    * Kill the “LinkedIn” and “Google +” social button utility on the left side of your navigation. Your analytics will likely show little or practically zero usage of those social services, I suspect, so de-emphasize them or remove completely.

    * Really emphasize web browser push notifications. Your respect for reader’s time and attention is finely attuned, and on my end, its rewarded with me 50% or more of the time clicking on those web formatted notifications. You need to get more users installing them, as they will find them valuable, information, and a good diversion during their workdays, particularly as they are tied more often to their desktop or notebooks, and less to their mobile devices. You are still among the earliest publishers, IMHO, who actually do this — and do it well — so I would really “push” (pun intended) more awareness and instructions on the easy steps to set it up. It’s really a great value and one of my favorite experiences with the Chrome browser, as a user.

    * Set clearer expectations of when your email updates are being sent — what I love about, say, Quartz is the regular frequency and cadence of their messages. Every morning, its one of my first reads, because its there in my inbox predictably as I open my eyes, allowing me to get a good read on what’s happened and what might be immediately ahead. Not saying you need an early-morning edition, but there’s wisdom in following the best email marketers and more “main stream” widely read publishers who seek to get email in front of their loyal users before 8AM.

    Free advice, worth what you’ve paid for it 🙂

    Thanks so much for what you do. I think your publication is a great case study and role model for entrepreneurs, journalists, and lots of other people, too. Keep up the great work and best wishes for continued success. We’re rooting for you!

  2. Facebook…Google…they just want to make more ad money. Soemetimes Google ads on mobile take up 90% of the 1st page…smh.

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