Tom Stangl

In the brief lifespan of the Internet, fortunes have been made and lost. Companies have come and gone as speed of the internet and technologies have evolved.

Remember America Online (AOL)? Netscape? Internet Explorer? How about Ask Jeeves? Dogpile? MySpace?

I don’t know about you, but “Jeeves” didn’t answer many questions well for me.

One thing has become apparent in the past 20 years, there are two main players making the most money in advertising online.

Referred to as the “duopoly,” Alphabet and Meta, better known by their brand names Google and Facebook, have literally cornered the market on advertising spending online. Their reach extends from Wall Street to Main Street. Their processes for identifying search results, purchasing behaviors and ways to manipulate consumers have made the companies and their investors fabulously wealthy.

Recently, lawmakers in the European Union and Australia have passed legislation to regulate the duopoly when it comes to privacy and predatory business practices. 

In the United States, Google and Meta have been called to testify many times on Capitol Hill, but precious little seems to get done to change their behaviors.

A recent survey of American adults reveals a large majority believe Big Tech has too much power over the news publishing industry and want Congress to act.

A new national survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted by Schoen Cooperman Research (SCR) for the News Media Alliance shows that 70 percent of Americans support Congress passing the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA). The JCPA is legislation designed to allow small and local publishers to band together to collectively negotiate fairer terms for use of their content by Big Tech platforms, such as Google and Facebook.

In the past two decades, Americans have watched their local papers shutter their doors or reduce their footprint in their communities as Google and Facebook built an advertising duopoly and deployed algorithms to systematically devalue high-quality journalism in favor of provocative content. This trend is affecting Americans’ attitudes toward Big Tech companies, as the survey shows that the public is worried about Big Tech’s influence over the news publishing industry and is concerned that the tech giants are driving small and local news outlets out of business.

Key findings of the survey are:

• 79 percent of Americans believe that Big Tech has too much power over the news and publishing industries.

• 76 percent of Americans believe that Big Tech companies are driving small and local news outlets out of business.

• 86 percent of Americans believe that Big Tech should be required to offer the same compensation terms to local publishers as they do national news organizations.

• 81 percent of Americans support Congress taking steps to give small and local publishers more power in negotiations with Big Tech companies.

Will this paper get rich off any settlement? Nope.

Any revenue from Google and Facebook for our news will be more than we receive now. As any business owner will tell you, finding new sources of revenue, no matter how small, is crucial to survival. Getting an exemption from anti-trust laws for newspapers to collectively negotiate with these companies will ensure newspapers of all sizes get equal representation and the same deal.

We urge passage of the JCPA and thank Sen. Amy Klobuchar for her leadership on this matter.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading. I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same. 

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