Reining in Big Tech could help save local news – Greeley Tribune

Big Tech is a big problem. Their platforms have been used to distort our democratic processes. Their control of the media advertising industry is – in the eyes of many – monopolistic. During the pandemic, when many Americans were plagued by illness and a collapsing economy, big tech companies made obscene sums of money. And their infiltration into our daily lives has literally reshaped our brains.

Local, independent newspapers have also suffered under Big Tech’s rule.

Alphabet and Meta — and their respective products Google News and Facebook News — have used their economic and political might to gain control of the vast majority of news and information that Colorado residents consume by borrowing the work of independent newspapers and Journalists who don’t have the ability to stand up to these tech giants.

This was possible in part because Big Tech could set all the rules. And these rules have prioritized their own financial gain. They decide where, when, and how people consume news—even though they’re not involved in reporting, printing, or publishing the vast majority of that content.

But they don’t pay for this content. So while Big Tech raked in billions of dollars ($38 billion in profits in a single quarter during the pandemic’s darkest months), hundreds of local newspapers were forced to downsize or shut down altogether.

As the not-so-fortunate local news sources dwindle and disappear, the information void left in their absence is being filled with “news” designed not to inform but to generate clicks. This “news” allows disinformation to proliferate, divisive content to drive a wedge in our communities, and partisanship to harden and solidify and become unforgiving. Already it feels like we lack common facts to support our worldview – what will happen if we continue down this path?

Of course, the Coloradans recognize the threat of Big Tech’s stranglehold on the news and support efforts to curb Big Tech’s outsized power and influence. New polls – commissioned by the News Media Alliance – show widespread concern about the power of big tech, as well as strong support for reforms to curb these monopolies. In fact, 83% are concerned that big tech companies have too much power over the news and publishing industries.

One potential reform that could help curb Big Tech’s greedy influence is the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act.

Quality and trustworthy journalism is expensive. The JCPA – a bipartisan-backed bill – aims to support our free press by allowing news publishers to negotiate fair terms for big tech companies to use their content. And recent amendments to the bill have increased the chances of a successful passage – including the introduction of a measure to assuage union concerns and an amendment to ensure dark money organizations like the state-controlled Russian TV channel don’t inadvertently benefit from it.

Similar bills have propelled local news outlets in Australia, Canada and Europe. In the US, such a move could bring much-needed revenue back to local newsrooms. Therefore, like other publications across the country, we call on Congress to support the JCPA so that independent newspapers can fulfill their mission of providing the public with reliable and trustworthy news, holding those in power to account and ensuring that government — from Washington to Colorado Boulder — serves all of its citizens.

Disappointingly, neither of Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper have signed on as co-sponsors of the JCPA. In the House of Representatives, however, unlikely allies of Representatives Ken Buck and Joe Neguse were co-sponsors of a package of similar antitrust reforms aimed at big tech. All four should now line up behind the JCPA.

Because, to put it bluntly, the Coloradans are deeply concerned about Big Tech’s outsized influence, its manipulation of the news industry, and the threats it threatens to small, local, independent media outlets.

Fortunately, the JCPA is a viable solution that would help end market manipulation and big tech’s selfish profiteering, while making the news industry freer, fairer, and a better product for those who matter most: the people .

— Gary Garrison and Douglas Schoen for the Camera Editorial Board, July 24 Reining in Big Tech could help save local news – Greeley Tribune

James Brien

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