Local news is the bedrock of America’s democracy, holding leaders accountable and keeping residents informed about what’s happening in their communities.
Without regular, high-quality news coverage, communities see increased government costs. People who are regular news consumers also are more civically engaged than those who don’t consume news regularly and are more likely to vote and to donate to causes important to them.
Quality news will not be available if news publishers cannot monetize their content and reinvest in reporting and newsgathering efforts. The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act makes this all possible.
The duopoly of Facebook and Google have been chipping away at news publishers’ ability to continue to provide the quality news our communities need.
These companies routinely profit off news publishers’ original content. The duopoly earns 70 percent or more of every advertising dollar spent online, leaving publishers with literal pennies to help pay for news. That imbalance is part of why the news industry has lost more than 28,000 jobs since 2008 and why 1,800 communities have lost their local newspapers since 2004.
In Kentucky, 15 newspapers have shuttered since 2004 and newspaper circulation has declined by 36 percent. Three Kentucky counties have no local news outlet and 91 counties in the state have only one local news outlet.
And Kentucky is faring better than some other states.
The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, which Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has signed on to support, would grant news publishers a limited antitrust safe harbor to negotiate with the tech platforms for better business terms to support journalism.
It would remove government from business negotiations so news publishers can work together to create needed to create balance in negotiating with the duopoly. Through the safe harbor, publishers big and small from Kentucky — and all 50 states — would be able to join together to ask companies like Google and Facebook for terms that would permit them to continue to provide their communities with the quality journalism they depend on.
News publications would be able to negotiate arrangements with the tech companies that would give us what we need most, so we can continue to give you the news you need most.
Without the safe harbor bill, not only will news publishers suffer, but so will our readers. Members of our communities rely on us every day to help keep them informed about what’s happening in their world, be it information about the roads they take to get to and from work, news about the local school board, how the local sports teams are faring and updates on state legislation. If news publishers can’t afford to pay journalists or continue publishing because they can’t get a better deal from the platforms, our readers are the ones who truly lose.
We thank Sen. Paul for supporting quality journalism here in Kentucky and across the country, and we encourage the rest of Congress to sign on to the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act and show their support as well.
– News Media Alliance