Opinion: Can Charging Big Tech a ‘Journalism Usage Fee’ Help Save Local News?
Local news is in crisis, and it’s not a new problem. The decline of the industry has been happening for decades, and major tech platforms, especially Google and Meta, have played a significant role in how the public accesses and engages with local journalism. The decline of local news has severe implications for democracy in the US, with research showing that a lack of local news opens the door to more government corruption.
Now, a new California state bill, AB 886, aims to give ailing news outlets in the state a shot of adrenaline. The bill would charge a “journalism usage fee” to large platforms that make news content available on their sites. The revenue from those fees would then be apportioned out to eligible digital journalism providers to support newsroom journalists.
The bill has bipartisan support, with its author, Buffy Wicks, saying it is borne out of her concerns about the decline of local newsrooms and the implications that has on the health of democracy in the Golden State. Wicks argues that journalists and newsrooms are critical to hold politicians accountable.
As a journalist, I have personally experienced the struggles that small, local newsrooms face, including buyouts, layoffs, and the uncertainty of funding. The decline of local news has been devastating, and the bill would provide a much-needed lifeline to the struggling industry.
However, some organizations are worried that the bill could make things worse by giving big tech companies more power over news outlets. They argue that the bill could create a conflict of interest and make newsrooms even more reliant on tech giants.
– Nationally, newspaper circulation and revenue both plunged by more than 50% from 2002 to 2020.
– Employment in newspaper newsrooms plummeted 57% between 2008 and 2020.
– A lack of local news opens the door to more government corruption.
– Google and Meta (which owns Facebook) have siphoned off billions in ad revenue from newspapers and other outlets.
– The decline of local news is a severe problem that has been ongoing for decades.
– Local news is essential for democracy, with research showing that a lack of local news opens the door to more government corruption.
– California’s AB 886 bill could provide a much-needed lifeline to the struggling industry, but some organizations worry it could make things worse by giving big tech companies more power over news outlets.
In conclusion, California’s AB 886 bill is a significant step forward in supporting struggling newsrooms, but it’s crucial to ensure that the bill doesn’t create a conflict of interest. The decline of local news has severe implications for democracy, and it’s time for big tech to pay their fair share for the content they rely on to drive traffic to their platforms.