By David Chavern, News Media Alliance
2018 has already proven to be an incredibly important year for news publishing. While the industry’s financial circumstances have continued to be difficult, this was also the year when we collectively rose up and organized ourselves to fight for our economic future. News publishers from all over the country publicly spoke out against tariffs on Canadian newsprint, advocated for their interests and supported collective efforts that resulted in those tariffs being over-turned. We stood up for ourselves and won. And we also proved that we can fight for our businesses without in any way compromising our great journalism.
It is a lesson that we now need to build upon. We know that our ability to build a sustainable digital future for journalism will depend, in large part, on our ability to get a better deal from Facebook and Google. While both companies have fantastic distribution platforms, they also stand between news publishers and a large (and growing) segment of their readership. As such, they not only control monetization of the digital news audience, they also actively and purposefully manage what kinds of news people are exposed to and when.
The best way to get a better deal for journalism is for the industry to negotiate collectively with the Duopoly. Unfortunately, current US antitrust laws protect the Duopoly from collective action by the news industry. To fix this perverse outcome, Representative David Cicilline (D-RI), ranking member of the House Antitrust Subcommittee, introduced the “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2018,” (“JCPA”) to provide a limited, focused safe harbor from the antitrust laws for the news industry.
To have a chance for a sustainable future for news publishing, we need to do everything possible to get the JCPA passed in the next Congress. Therefore, I am writing to ask you to publish an editorial calling on candidates in the midterm elections to support an antitrust safe harbor for news publishers between Wednesday, October 24 and October 31.
The upcoming elections are an opportunity for us to, once again, stand-up for ourselves and advocate for journalism. We need to directly address elected officials about our challenges at the precise moment when they are paying the most attention.
We know your publications are working harder than ever with fewer resources, and time is running short. Therefore, below is a draft editorial that you can personalize and run in your publications, if you prefer to do so over writing an original op-ed.
We hope that, through an increase in coverage of this important issue at the height of political campaigning, it will increase the probability of getting Congressional candidates’ attention and action leading up to the elections.