A free press is vital for American democracy.
This fact was true in the days of our founding fathers, when those lucky enough to be literate read our work on the pages of newspapers.
This remains true today, when 86% of American adults read our work on smartphones, computers or tablets.
Much of this information can be found in so-called newsfeeds controlled by big tech companies, but it’s still work produced by the free press.
The importance of local information professionally collected and reported was even clearer over the past year and a half due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the racial justice movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd and an election controversial that led to an insurgency on our nation’s Capitol.
Big tech companies know the value of journalism and harness it for their own profit.
Google, Facebook and others have grown stronger for years thanks to news publishers. These giants are using their power and influence to grab hold of the money they haven’t earned.
In 2018, Google and Facebook had nearly four times the income like all of our country’s news media combined, according to the Pew Research Center.
This includes TV, print and digital sites.
These two companies alone absorb around 80% of digital ad spend and 45% of all ad spend in the United States even though the news on their platforms was produced by us.
That’s why Columbus Dispatch, our parent company, and other news publishers are calling on Congress to support competition law and the preservation of journalism.
It will help level the playing field by allowing news publishers to bargain collectively with digital platforms.
Google and Facebook pay to license music and many other types of content, but they refuse to fairly compensate the creators of genuine local journalism.
Partly because of this we saw at least 300 media outlets close and over 6,000 journalists made redundant in the past two years alone.
Like most giants, Big Tech is a formidable foe that can wreak havoc.
We saw what happened in Australia when Facebook removed news from its feed in response to a bill that would require it to pay publishers for their content.
After:Australia to charge Google and Facebook for news content
The space where accurate information once lived has quickly filled with inaccurate, unverified and misleading stories – which is truly fake news. Facebook finally reinstated the information and the legislation passed in Australia. The United States and the rest of the world are now following in Australia’s footsteps and demanding fair and long-awaited compensation for those who find out and report the news.
We ask for your help in asking U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman to support the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act.
Our elected leaders cannot regulate information under the First Amendment, but that’s exactly what Facebook and Google do in deciding what content people see and when.
Big Tech has undervalued quality journalism.
As a result, the information ecosystem has become increasingly confusing and unhealthy. The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act will give all forms of media a chance to get a fair return for their work so they can invest in the news gathering and reporting that Americans rely on.
It is the right thing to do for democracy.
Editorials are the Dispatch Editorial Board’s factual assessment of issues important to the communities we serve. It is not the opinions of our collaborators who make reports, who strive to be neutral in their reports.