ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Letter: Big Tech’s devastation of local news needs to be immediately addressed

"Local publishers work tirelessly to report news and write content, yet Big Tech companies are the ones who profit most from their work," writes Danielle Coffey of the News Media Alliance. "This is fundamentally unfair, and the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act will bring about much-needed change."

Letter to the editor FSA
We are part of The Trust Project.

Local journalism is facing an existential crisis because of Big Tech's abusive business tactics.

In the early days of the internet, the news was something you had to go out of your way to find. Thanks to the rise of Big Tech companies like Google and Facebook, the news is delivered straight to our fingertips, and social media feeds. We don't even have to look for it — it comes looking for us.

However, Big Tech's dominance over the news has come at a high cost because they refuse to fairly pay local publishers for the journalistic content that fuels their platforms; as a result, local papers that have been the cornerstones of their communities are being replaced by black box algorithms written by Silicon Valley coders that present their users with content that reinforces their existing beliefs, promotes political partisanship and spreads conspiracy theories.

Since 2000, newspaper circulation has dropped by half, with 31 million fewer daily newspapers in circulation in 2020 and the vast majority of U.S. counties with no regular newspaper — "news deserts" — are in rural areas.

Congress must hold Big Tech accountable for their use and abuse of local papers and prioritize passing bipartisan solutions like the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act during the lame-duck period, or risk making Facebook America’s de-facto local news source.

ADVERTISEMENT

The JCPA levels the playing field for small and local outlets to collectively bargain with Big Tech to use their content. It is ideologically neutral, incentivizes publishers to hire more journalists and protects free speech and press. In our highly polarized times, 70% of Americans support the JCPA as well as both Democrats and Republicans in Congress because the JCPA is ultimately about basic fairness.

Local publishers work tirelessly to report news and write content, yet Big Tech companies are the ones who profit most from their work. This is fundamentally unfair, and the JCPA will bring about much-needed change.

Big Tech's allies will say that the JCPA only purports to support local papers, but it will ultimately allow Big Tech and Big Media to undermine the First Amendment and empower extremists.

Each of these claims is categorically false.

The JCPA explicitly only benefits small and local publishers and severely penalizes Big Tech platforms if they do not negotiate in good faith. A recent amendment to the JCPA by Sen. Ted Cruz even prohibits the media and Big Tech from negotiating over or agreeing to censor content. Lastly, thousands of hometown papers across the political spectrum support the JCPA — hardly the extremists that Big Tech's cronies would make them out to be.

Local papers cannot afford to wait for several more years of Big Tech’s use and abuse and the time to take action to stand up to Big Tech is dwindling. The Senate Judiciary Committee has already taken action to advance the JCPA to the Senate floor. We hope the rest of Congress passes the JCPA before the end of the year to rein in Big Tech and restore fairness to local journalism, one of the most important checks and balances we have against corporate power and government corruption, before it’s too late.

Danielle Coffey is the executive vice president and general counsel for the News Media Alliance based in Washington, D.C.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

ADVERTISEMENT

READ MORE OF THE LATEST LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Charles Dow, the Humana Medicare president for North Dakota, urges readers to "conduct a personal assessment to identify the type of plan for your unique health needs."
"Refusing to adapt to new technology could be detrimental to these crucial industries that have carried our states economy for so long. It could also mean losing several benefits to counties on the project route," writes Beulah resident Kenneth Hintz. "North Dakota has a unique opportunity here and I hope we choose to take advantage of it."
Sandra Leyland, CEO and president of Fraser Ltd., writes, "As of this year 3,160 families and individuals have had a touch of Christmas spirit due to the collaborative efforts of so many. It took 43 agencies to work this magic.
Roger Reierson, executive chairman of the board at RR46, writes, "Grand Farm is not just a field, it is truly visionary initiative that will spark collaboration, experimentation, research and development for the next generation of agriculture."
J. Patrick Traynor, executive director of the Dakota Medical Foundation, writes about MacKenzie Scott's recent $10M donation.
Jill Magnell, owner and director of Little Discoveries in Moorhead, writes, "With fully funded child care, we can offer our educators the same wages, benefits and recognition as K-12 teachers and we can provide a break for our working parents struggling to afford child care tuition.
Kristin Nelson writes, "I call on leaders across the state as well as Gov. Burgum to denounce anti-LGBTQ+ violence, anyone who produces anti-LGBTQ+ content, and make statements to affirm the safety and existence of LGBTQ+ people."
Sen. Kevin Cramer writes, "Like the Apollo program, years of preparation and research went into the Artemis I launch. Our nation would not have achieved this monumental milestone without North Dakota’s critical contributions."
Alan Haut, the SBA's North Dakota district director, writes, "Please join me by shopping at your local small business and dining at an independently owned restaurant during the holiday season and all year long"

What to read next
Dr. Siri Fiebiger of Minneapolis writes, "Love doesn't immunize against pregnancy complications: early ruptured membranes, poor fetal growth, worsening maternal health, preterm labor. We share a collective exhale as a baby takes its first breath."
Paul H. Gleye, a member of the Fargo Downtown Neighborhood Association's board of directors, writes that The Forum stands to benefit if Romantix moves.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum writes about his recent trade and investment mission to Japan.
Janet Fisher, Denise Dykeman, Rev. Ellery Dykeman and Barb Solberg respond to Sens. Cramer's and Hoeven's votes against law to protect gay marriage.