Congress holds the fate of local news in its own hands – Orlando Sentinel

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, but that basic American freedom isn’t worth the parchment it’s printed on if brutal market conditions continue to let a few big internet companies suck up nearly all ad revenue while leaving relative scraps. to those who provide information on a daily, weekly and hourly basis to our communities. On average, two US newspapers close their doors a week, and areas of the country lacking strong local coverage tend to be poorer, older and less educated than others. This is a civic emergency in slow motion.

We in the media — who try to hold government accountable for how it educates our children, polices our communities, jails suspected criminals, cleans up our streets and spends public money — are understandably wary of taxpayer-backed donations. . But a bipartisan alliance in Congress has found a smart and effective way to give local news organizations a fighting chance to create sustainable funding streams: give them “a four-year safe haven” from antitrust laws so that they can band together and bargain collectively with the likes of Facebook and Google for better and fairer terms.

The Journalism Preservation and Competition Act must, with the help of Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, go through the Judiciary Committee, to the Senate, then through the House and finally to President Biden’s office, as a fix necessary for a status quo in which a few big companies have cornered the advertising market – largely on the backs of journalists who do the painstaking work of providing readers with the latest news on what’s happening where they live. It is no coincidence that this economic moment when social media platforms profit from spreading the work of others is a political moment when misinformation and division are spreading like forest fires caused by climate change.

If you care about strengthening the building blocks of American democracy, you should care about the survival of the many outlets dedicated to gathering and reporting information. If you care about our survival, you should support this legislation. — The New York Daily News

Readers in Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake counties know only too well what is at stake. They have read stories that could never have been told without the Sentinel’s strong commitment to local journalism. They know what a difference our coverage makes.

That commitment shines through in breaking news coverage, like the team of reporters who rushed to gather information after 14-year-old Tire Sampson was killed after falling from an International Drive ride. It shines a bright light into corners the powerful would rather keep dark – as shown by the Sentinel’s scrutiny of secret campaign finance and the underhanded tactics that can thwart Floridians’ intentions in the voting booth. It sparks inspiration among readers looking for the best entertainment culture and cuisine this region has to offer. And it can even shed light on seemingly unknowable questions, like the difference between SunPass and E-PASS.

People come to the Sentinel for the full story, and that’s what we think our readers deserve.

It is frustrating, however, to see the major social media networks standing on the sidelines while our reporters pour their heart and soul into interviewing sources, researching statistics and writing compelling accounts of the daily news. Within minutes of publication, our work is often scooped up and monetized for the benefit of these international corporations, siphoning money from our community that could be used to provide our readers with even more comprehensive coverage. And while it is true that we also benefit from increased traffic, the advantage is overwhelming on the side of the social media giants and search engines. Allowing us to stand alongside our fellow publishers gives us a chance to negotiate more fairly.

We’re not asking for handouts ― just an acknowledgment that every day these networks are making millions from work they’ve never contributed to, and that they should sit down with the media they benefit from and make a deal that helps us meet the needs of our readers. We believe this is fair and the best way to continue to provide our readers with the coverage they rely on. ― The Orlando Sentinel

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