It’s time for social media sites, search engines to pay for news


By subscribing to The Tribune, our readers stay in the know with all of the local news going on in Jackson County and its surrounding area.

Whether delivered to the door or consumed online, there’s an expectation that those hard-earned dollars spent on supporting the newspaper will translate into making better-informed citizens.

Companies like Facebook and Google — multibillion-dollar entities — believe they should profit off of that same news content subscribers pay for at little to no cost.

While some new measures have been recently put in place to address the issue of fair compensation, the initiatives are just a drop in the bucket considering the amount of news content the companies distribute without cost or consent.

Articles, photos and videos created by local news agencies — all generated by the business’ own funding — have helped drive traffic up for social media companies and search engines, resulting in more clicks and time spent on the platforms, for years.

A 2019 study conducted by the News Media Alliance concluded news publishers’ content makes up 16 to 39% of Google’s search results.

A recent editorial by America’s Newspapers, an association of some 1,500 newspapers, including many operated by families for multiple generations, addressed the issue.

“The irony is that the news and content that newspapers pay journalists to provide is used by Google and Facebook to steadily drive advertising revenue away from newspapers and into their coffers,” the editorial states. “The two digital giants now gobble up 60% of all online advertising in the United States, an amount certain to increase with the cratering of newspaper ad revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”

Companies like Google and Facebook don’t employ local journalists to cover the news. They don’t have reporters living in our community, updating readers on how it’s being impacted by the coronavirus and how/where to get help.

What’s going on in the school systems or in local government and law enforcement? All of that information comes from local news sources. Stories featuring local athletes and entertainment also go to the wayside without those reporters and photographers.

Saying newspapers aren’t needed anymore because we have Facebook and Google is a lot like saying we don’t need farmers because we have grocery stores.

It’s time for these mammoth companies to pay for the content they’ve been using for years. Revenue sharing policies and licensing fees need to happen between newspaper owners and the big businesses.

America’s Newspapers along with the News Media Alliance and other media associations are urging Congress to pass the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, allowing newspaper publishers as a group to negotiate rates with Big Tech. Other countries, such as Australia and France, are currently implementing measures to address the issue.

As evident by the recent pandemic, local news is as important now as it has ever been.

By forcing these big companies to pay their fair share, it will help more newspapers keep their doors open in the future.

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