Facebook loses a managing editor

Facebook staffer Dan Fletcher says he’s moving on after working for a little more than a year as a “managing editor” for the giant social networking site.

Fletcher, 25, is a former Bloomberg News and Time staffer whose hiring in early 2012 prompted speculation that Facebook might have ambitions for producing its own journalism or other content. During his time at the company, he oversaw the development of Facebook Stories, a sort of online corporate magazine that features stories about “people using Facebook in extraordinary ways” – to raise money for a sick child, for example, or to let friends see their wedding in a remote South American village.

While Fletcher and other Facebook staffers write some of the stories, other are contributed by Facebook users themselves. The site has helped to promote Facebook, of course, while racking up 388,000 “likes” from Facebook users. But in a talk with journalism students at Washington State University this week, Fletcher seemed to imply that so-called “branded journalism” was an awkward fit for Facebook.

“Facebook is meant to sort of fade into the background,” he said, according to an account on PBS MediaShift. “When Facebook starts producing content, it takes you away from that mindset.” Fletcher also said he concluded that Facebook “doesn’t need reporters” because Facebook members are telling their own stories. “There is no more engaging content Facebook could produce than you talking to your family and friends.”

That’s in keeping with recent comments by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has compared Facebook to a “personalized newspaper” when describing the site’s News Feed, the main page of updates that it delivers to each user. But unlike a traditional newspaper or an online site like Yahoo, Zuckerberg told reporters earlier this month that he doesn’t foresee a day when Facebook produces its own content.

Fletcher, meanwhile, confirmed his departure in a post Wednesday on his own Facebook page. While he’s reportedly planning to launch his own online startup, he hasn’t said what kind of business it will be.

 

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