Whining About Big Tech Doesn't Protect Journalism

from the not-how-it-works dept

I've been as frustrated as anyone by the fact that the internet advertising business models have not filtered down to news publishers, because it does seem like a real lost opportunity. However, it's kind of weird to see a couple of laid off journalists announce a project to "protect" journalism that seems to consist entirely of whining about big tech. It's literally called the "Save Journalism Project" but they have no plans to actually "save journalism."

Their new project will be set up as a nonprofit, according to Eddie Vale, a Democratic consultant whose firm is helping launch the effort. Vale pitched Bassett on the idea, and the two of them brought in Stanton. Vale said initial funding had been secured from “someone who doesn’t want to be public so Google and Facebook don’t go after them,” and the group plans to continue to fundraise. So far, the pair have coauthored testimony given to the Senate Judiciary Committee highlighting the tech giants’ impact on the news industry — “since being laid off, we’ve made it our mission to understand how the digital marketplace works and how Big Tech is killing the journalism industry,” they wrote — flown a plane above Google’s I/O conference, and authored op-eds.

Wow. Flying a plane over a Google conference. That'll save journalism.

At the moment, Stanton and Bassett are more focused on warning the public and the industry about the issue than on proposing solutions.

“I do think that everyone is starting to see a need to break up and regulate these companies or something along those lines,” Bassett said. “And with regards to how they’re going to make journalism viable again, I don’t frankly know...I think right now we’re starting with just getting this conversation out into the public and making people aware of exactly what’s going on. I do hope at some point we graduate into saying, ‘here’s a list of policy proposals, here’s exactly what needs to happen.’”

Even if you believe the (debatable) claim that Google and Facebook are somehow to blame for the decline in advertising revenue to news sites, I'm left scratching my head over what good complaining about big tech actually does. Also "break up and regulate or something along those lines"? Again, I think there's a valuable discussion to be had about how best to help fund journalism. It is pretty damn key to my own livelihood. But, this organization isn't set up to have an "open" discussion. It has already insisted what the problem is ("big tech") without being able to support that argument, and then says "something must be done" and so far it's just whining about big tech.

I fail to see how that's productive. There are lots of smart, thoughtful people who have put a lot of work into a variety of arguments about how to deal with the big internet companies. Some of them I agree with and some of them I don't, but I'm at a near total loss as to how merely whining does anything at all to save journalism.

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Filed Under: big tech, journalism, save journalism
Companies: facebook, google

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2019 @ 3:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Here's an example from the top of Google News:

    Helicopter crash: 1 dead as Helicopter crashes into Midtown Manhattan building located at 787 7th Ave. today – live updates
    One person is reported dead after a helicopter crashed onto the roof of a building Monday afternoon in Midtown Manhattan, New York City police and fire ...
    CBS News
    2 hours ago
    Helicopter crashes into New York City building: Latest updates
    A helicopter has crashed into a building located on 7th Avenue in Manhattan, fire officials said. Follow here for the latest.
    36 minutes ago
    New York fire department responding to helicopter crash at building in midtown Manhattan
    The New York fire department is responding to a helicopter crash at a building in midtown Manhattan.
    The Missoulian
    3 hours ago
    Helicopter Crashes Into High Rise Building In Midtown
    A helicopter landed on the roof of a high rise building in Midtown Monday afternoon, causing a fire and possible casualties, according to the FDNY.
    WCBS 880
    4 hours ago
    Local coverage
    FDNY: Pilot dead after helicopter crash reported in Manhattan
    NEW YORK (AP) — The Fire Department is responding to a report of a helicopter crash at a building in midtown Manhattan. The FDNY said at around 2 p.m. ...
    WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports | Fort Lauderdale
    4 hours ago

    All of the links take you directly to the actual news site. Nothing of the content is "copied" or displayed by Google. You have to go to the original source if you want to read what the headline is all about.

    Is all this hysteria and demands for licensing seriously over just the headlines? And if this service didn't exist readers would only ever see news published by their favorite site(s). Many of these news sources would see far less traffic. If anything, Google should be charging for the traffic sent to those news sources.

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