FOR THE WEEK OF JULY 17, 2017
Newspapers try a new tactic in economic tussle with Google and Facebook
List at least four ways that newspapers benefit you and your community.
Summarize another public policy or business issue in the news.
Are newspaper articles usually trustworthy? Why or why not?
There's a new development in the scramble by traditional news organizations to thrive in an environment where Google and Facebook deliver news directly to readers – including content from newspapers and magazines. Some large journalism providers, most of which have been around since before online news, have come together to make the industry's biggest push so far to change the balance of power. A group of news organizations seek the right to negotiate collectively with the big online platforms for a larger share of digital ad revenue generated by their reporting. First they need an OK from Congress to work jointly, even though they're business competitors.
Federal protections against monopolies – called anti-trust laws – bar large companies in the same field from cooperating against rivals. The idea is to block firms from conspiring to benefit at the expense of consumers, such as by setting artificially high prices. The publishers' argument for an exemption is that Google and Facebook threaten their economic health and consumers' access to a wide array of news-gathering.
A coalition called the News Media Alliance leads the effort to bargain as a group. Its 2,000 members include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and smaller publications from coast to coast. They accuse Google and Facebook of anti-competitive behavior by attracting newspaper readers without the cost of gathering news and without sharing digital ad dollars fairly. "We need a better deal for the news business," says David Chavern, head of the alliance. Overseas, the European Union and Germany have acted aggressively against anti-competitive actions by the digital powerhouses, including a $2.7-billion fine recently against Google.
The two targets say they want smoother relations. "We're committed to helping quality journalism thrive on Facebook," says Campbell Brown, its head of news partnerships. "We're making progress through our work with news publishers and have more work to do." Facebook executives met meet with publishers last week to introduce new ways for them to sell subscriptions on the site, the latest of several moves over the past few months to improve exposure for local news on the site and make it easier for news sites to run ads with their articles there. Google makes similar efforts through its News Lab and says its algorithm has been tweaked to show quality news more prominently in search results. It's also working to help newsrooms take advantage of new technology to innovate and increase online revenue, as discussed in the video below.
Newspaper leader says: "The temperature is rising in terms of concern, and in some cases anger, about what seems like a very asymmetric, disadvantageous relationship between the publishers and the very big digital platforms." -- Mark Thompson, New York Times chief executive
Google says: "Google's mission is to organize the world’s information and make it useful and accessible to everyone. Quality journalism is critical to that mission." – News Lab website
Lawyer says: "The product at issue is important from a public policy perspective. We're talking about news, and news is crucial for a democratic society." -- Jonathan Kanter, representing the News Media Alliance
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