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News Industry Argues Google and Facebook ‘Rob Journalism of Its Revenue’, Seek Government Help

This week USA Today’s former editor-in-chief argued that “Tech overlords Google and Facebook have used monopoly to rob journalism of its revenue,” in an op-ed shared by schwit1:

Over the past decade, the news business has endured a bloodbath, with tens of thousands of journalists losing their jobs amid mass layoffs. The irony is, more people than ever are consuming news… Why the disconnect? Look no further than a new study by the News Media Alliance, which found that in 2018, Google made $4.7 billion off of news content — almost as much as every news organization in America combined made from digital ads last year. Yet Google paid a grand total of zero for the privilege. News industry revenue, meanwhile, has plunged… Google and Facebook command about 60% of all U.S. digital advertising revenue, and have siphoned off billions of dollars that once were the lifeblood of the news media.

Let’s be perfectly clear: Journalism’s primary revenue source has been hijacked. It’s time that news providers are compensated for the journalism they produce. That’s why passage of the bipartisan Journalism Competition and Preservation Act is crucial…

Toward that end, “News industry officials, including Atlanta Journal-Constitution Editor Kevin Riley, testified Tuesday on Capitol Hill in favor of legislation they say would help recover advertising revenue lost in recent years to tech behemoths such as Google and Facebook.”

The bipartisan bill would provide a four-year reprieve from federal antitrust laws, allowing print and digital publishers to collectively bargain with tech companies about how their content is used — and what share of ad dollars they’ll receive…. Federal antitrust laws bar news organizations from banding together to negotiate more favorable terms from social media and search sites. And individual outlets are deterred from acting alone, according to Chavern’s group, because large tech companies could tank a news organization’s traffic by demoting or excluding its stories from searches.

The bill’s proponents say it could help turn the tide for an industry that’s been harmed over the past two decades by declining print subscriptions and ad revenue streams that have dried up and increasingly headed online. As tech sites’ share of advertising revenue has grown — Google’s skyrocketed from $3.8 billion in 2005 to $52.4 billion in 2017 — U.S. newspapers have watched their’s nosedive from more than $49 billion to $16.5 billion during the same 12-year period, according to the Pew Research Center.


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