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'Today In' is Facebook's latest experiment in connecting people to local news

Facebook announced a new experiment in local news on Tuesday with "Today In."

The feature, which brings together local news, updates and events, can be found in the drop-down menu on Facebook's mobile app in six cities: New Orleans; Little Rock, Arkansas; Billings, Montana; Peoria, Illinois; Olympia, Washington; and Binghamton, New York.

It's an offering similar to something Google introduced last year with "Community Updates."

Facebook's overtures toward working with local news began last year with the Facebook Journalism Project, which Poynter is part of.

That work included training local journalistsin best practices for Facebook and a handful of products aimed at better helping people discover local news. And as my colleague Ren LaForme and I reported last year, Facebook groups were a critical tool for newsrooms covering the hurricane.

So what might local news organizations get out of this latest experiment?

Meanwhile, there's real angst about another experiment Facebook conducted last year in six different countries by taking the actual news out of the newsfeed. The company told Digiday's Lucia Moses that "there is no current plan to roll this out beyond these test countries or to charge pages on Facebook to pay for all their distribution in News Feed or Explore.”

Still, at the beginning of the year, GroundSource's Simmon Galperin wrote on Medium that it's time to prepare for that possibility.

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