To Save Journalism, Congress Must Allow News Companies to Negotiate Collectively With Tech Platforms

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by David Chavern

News consumption is growing exponentially, but for the past decade, the revenue to news publishers has been on a decline. This is, in large part, because of the unbalanced relationship between news publishers and tech platforms. But that relationship could be changing thanks to the introduction of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act by House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, D-Rhode Island, and Rep. Doug Collins, R-Georgia.

The bill, which would provide news publishers a safe harbor in which to collectively negotiate with platforms like Google and Facebook, could help news producers receive the fair distribution and monetization terms we’ve long been fighting to get from the duopoly.

Because of their market dominance – and access to billions of users – the major tech platforms set the rules for news publishers and determine how journalism is displayed, prioritized and monetized. They also capture the vast majority of all digital advertising dollars because of their unique ability to collect consumer data across the web.

All of this has degraded the relationship between news readers and publishers and rewarded low quality click-bait over quality information from real journalists. It has also greatly reduced the financial ability of publishers to invest in newsrooms at a time when our society most needs great, substantive reporting.

It is simply not possible for any individual news publisher to change the basic terms offered by the online behemoths. They are simply much too big and much too influential.

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SOURCE: The Dallas Morning News

David Chavern is chief executive of the News Media Alliance, a trade association representing more than 2,000 newspapers in the U.S. and internationally.