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AS WE SEE IT: Congress can help level the field by adopting ‘Journalism Competition and Preservation Act’

An open letter from the News Alliance Association

A free and diverse press is the backbone of a healthy and vibrant democracy, but local newspapers across the country are under incredible financial pressure and in jeopardy of going out of business. One of the largest problems facing local journalism is that control of access to trustworthy news online has become concentrated on just two platforms: Facebook and Google. There must be a fair exchange for the significant value news publishers’ content provides to Google and Facebook, so that publishers can continue to invest in journalism.

In order to help level the playing field, the bipartisan “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act” was recently reintroduced in the House by Antitrust Subcommittee Chair David Cicilline (D-RI) and Ranking Member Ken Buck (R-CO) and in the Senate by Antitrust Subcommittee Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator John N. Kennedy (R-LA). The bill would temporarily allow news publishers to collectively negotiate with the tech platforms for fair compensation for the use of their content in order to sustain high-quality journalism. Many senators and representatives from both parties have already stepped up and expressed strong support for the bill, solidifying its role as the cornerstone of all comprehensive solutions to the journalism crisis.

ACT NOW: We ask you to call on your Member of Congress to support this important legislation.

Journalism is critical to a functioning democracy, and the price of doing nothing – the continuing disappearance of local newspapers – is too great. It is more important than ever to take action that supports quality journalism.

If you have any questions, please contact us at policy@newsmediaalliance.org.

Editor’s Note:

While we tentatively support the measuers outlined in this letter, it’s still unclear how exactly this legislation would benefit small, independently owned newspapers like the Carter County Times. While the parent company of the previous papers was a large corporation, capable of negotiating with Google or Facebook for access to content across the papers they own, smaller papers will need to band together. While the Act calls for collective negotiation, just how small independent papers get a seat at that table, and how it will benefit their stories and access to digital ad revenue, remains to be seen. 

What is undeniable is that the viability of local journalism is threatened. We saw that when the parent company of the former papers decided to close shop. While the reach of tech giants, and their ability to profit off the labor of others, needs checking, we need to make sure the JCPA benefits all journalism. Not just the big companies. 

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