The News Media Alliance, a trade association representing 2,000 news organizations, made a call to Congress on Monday, seeking legislation that would allow news publishers to negotiate collectively with Facebook, Google and other online platforms.
The president of the News Media Alliance, David Chavern, wrote an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal on Sunday, bemoaning antitrust laws preventing individual newspapers from banding to protect their content and business.
“If they open a unified front to negotiate with Google and Facebook — pushing for stronger intellectual property protections, better support for subscription models and a fair share of revenue and data — they could build a more sustainable future for the news business,” Chavern wrote.
The news media industry is fighting a war on two fronts: While President Donald Trump berates and vehemently attempts to discredit publications on Twitter, Facebook Inc.
and Alphabet Inc.’s Google
gobble up the online advertising newspapers desperately need to keep afloat.
Together they account for more than 70% of the $73 billion spent on digital advertising yearly, and roughly 80% of all online referral traffic.
“The digital giants benefit from legal precedent against collective action that has a chilling effect on publishers,” he continued. “Antitrust enforcers have declined to address Google and Facebook’s growing dominance, enabling the digital giants to roll up the information economy.”
The Wall Street Journal, owned by News Corp
is a member of the News Media Alliance. The Wall Street Journal also shares common ownership with MarketWatch. The New York Times Co.
Washington Post and a number of troubled regional papers are also members.
Google and Facebook have become major sources of news, including fake news outlets, as demand for information in real time has increased. But reliable news organizations have felt taken advantage of in their relationship with digital platforms.
The move is seemingly a long shot, but Chavern in his opinion piece believes digital platforms like Google and Facebook pose a bigger threat to the industry than President Trump.
Since 2000, publishing jobs in the U.S. have declined 29%, according to the Department of Labor. By comparison, coal mining has dropped 31% over the same period.
“Quality journalism is critical to sustaining democracy and is central to civic society,” Chavern said in a statement on Monday. “To ensure that such journalism has a future, the news organizations that fund it must be able to collectively negotiate with the digital platforms that effectively control distribution and audience access in the digital age.”