Another Wisconsin congressman backs fair negotiations between local news providers and tech giants to get reporters paid for their work.
U.S. Representative Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua, said last week that he added his name as a co-sponsor of the Journalism Preservation and Competition Act because several news outlets in his northern Wisconsin district could close due to Big Tech’s predatory practices.
“For too long, tech giants like Google and Facebook have crippled local news organizations with their monopoly power,” Tiffany said in a statement to the State Journal. “The Journalism Preservation and Competition Act will provide hard-working local journalists with a level playing field and relief from Big Tech’s anti-competitive practices.”
He is right. And more members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation should support this important cause to preserve independent and professional reporting in their local communities.
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Tiffany joins Representative Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah and 75 other members of Congress in supporting a level playing field for fair negotiations on how local stories can be used and monetized by search engines and social media sites .
Supporters include 44 Democrats and 20 Republicans in the Houseand seven Republicans and six Democrats in the Senate. That’s about as bipartisan as it gets. And a key Senate committee is expected to review the proposal soon, supporters say. The Senate Judiciary Committee should recommend and send the bill to the full Senate for a vote, which senses. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, should be supportive.
The Competition and Journalism Preservation Act would allow local news providers to bargain as a group with the biggest tech companies for up to four years. The temporary exemption from federal antitrust laws would give local news organizations more leverage to secure ad revenue and better control how their stories are used by Google, Facebook and a handful of digital brokers.
Big tech companies now grab most of the revenue, with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward news providers, even though local journalists are the ones producing much of the content these tech companies profit from. It is not a free or fair market.
News publishers are gaining record audiences online. With so much unattributed and unreliable information on social media and shady online platforms, the public is looking for – and needs – credible information from local sources in their communities.
Yet many reliable outlets – including small newspapers in the Northern District of Wisconsin in Tiffany – are struggling to survive because Google and Facebook control so much who can see what online and how the revenue from all that traffic is distributed. .
Google and Facebook control the digital market and have fun dictating the terms in their favor. But Americans increasingly suspect — with good reason — that these companies are unfairly distorting discussions, highlighting sensational claims, encouraging division, sucking up personal information and undermining our democracy.
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The Competition and Journalism Protection Act would encourage tech giants to negotiate in good faith about the value local journalism brings to their platforms, as well as how it appears and is prioritized. And instead of Big Tech grabbing most of the ad revenue, more could go to newsrooms to pay for local news coverage.
Congress must act to ensure that market forces — not two corporations — enable local journalism to be fairly compensated, to hire more reporters, and to keep citizens informed.