Congress should pass JCPA to help local newspapers – Whittier Daily News

From the beginning of our American republic, newspapers have played a vital role in controlling the power of government. The founders understood that a free press was essential to informing the public of government excesses, which is why freedom of the press is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

Advances in technology over the past three decades have clearly disrupted newspaper business models and the means by which stories produced in newsrooms across the country are routinely disseminated.

These changes have given massive power to Big Tech companies like Facebook and Google, which can influence how stories are made available and how digital advertising revenue is allocated.

The consequences were predictable.

According to the California News Publishers Association, Big Tech’s asymmetric power means that “for every dollar made in digital advertising, platforms absorb up to 70% of revenue, leaving publishers with just 30%”.

Facebook and Google have positioned themselves to reap hundreds of billions of dollars a year in digital ad revenue, while newspapers across the country have been forced to shut down or drastically reduce their workforces. In California alone, at least 115 newspapers have closed completely since 2004, with more than a dozen counties in the state served by only one local outlet or none in the case of two.

It was in this context that the Journalism Preservation and Competition Act was introduced to the US Senate by the senses. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, and Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, and to the House of Representatives by Rep. David Cicilline. , D-Rhode Island and Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colorado.

The bill would create a temporary “safe harbour” from antitrust laws to allow news publishers to collectively bargain with tech companies like Facebook and Google for more reasonable terms when it comes to the use of news content. on these platforms and the distribution of advertising dollars.

We urge its adoption.

As everyone knows, nothing is free. Newsrooms across the country work every day to provide the public with news and information. This requires employing professionals who can do their jobs accurately, ethically and responsibly.

The decline of especially local newspapers across the country has sadly left many Americans unaware of what is happening in their local communities, in their town halls, in their school districts, in their county governments, and even in their state government.

This is untenable in a free society.

As readers of these pages know, there are big local issues that national media can’t be expected to fill in and Facebook and Google can’t fill you in on without having original content produced. by local newsrooms.

From public debates over major real estate and commercial developments to crime, homelessness, police accountability and a number of political power struggles, these are issues only well-run news organizations can unravel. and make it accessible to the general public.

The continued decimation of local newspapers only benefits the corrupt and powerful.

The JCPA is certainly not a panacea for the problems of the newspaper industry, but it does offer news organizations the opportunity to get their fair share of Big Tech companies that do not have the same mission or interest. for local communities than local newspapers.

About Erin Redding

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