Saving Journalism–Getting Big Tech to Pay for the News They Use?

Jonathan Heawood is Executive Director of the Public Interest News Foundation, United Kingdom; Michael Markovitz is Head of the GIBS Media Leadership Think Tank, Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), South Africa; and Anya Schiffrin is Senior Lecturer of Practice at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University in New York. How can journalists and campaigners stand up to the power of Google, Facebook and the other big tech companies that dominate the world’s information ecosystem? How can we build a viable future for high-quality journalism whilst social media platforms and search engines gobble up the world’s advertising budgets? In 2021, when Australia sought to answer those questions by introducing a code to govern the interactions between Big Tech and news publishers, the platforms retaliated. Facebook blocked its Australian users from accessing thousands of news sites – including vital sources of public information during rampant wildfires and the Covid pandemic. They only turned the news back on when they won major concessions from the Australian government. Since then, governments around the world have proposed their own versions of the News Media Bargaining Code, some echoing Australia’s by trying to fix the imbalanced market relationships between publishers and platforms and others with loftier goals of regulating the digital marketplace in its entirety. Canada has just passed a law similar to Australia’s and so has the lower house of the California legislature. In the UK, legislation is currently making its way through parliament. If we get these laws wrong, we…Saving Journalism–Getting Big Tech to Pay for the News They Use?