In an effort to try and level the playing field against companies like Facebook and Google with massive online presence and influence, an organization of newspapers and digital media outlets called the News Media Alliance, which includes the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times’ parent company, Tronc, are banding together to request that Congress make an exemption to antitrust laws so that they can collectively negotiate advertising revenue with these large online platforms.
For the news organizations pushing for the exemption, it’s an issue of preserving good journalism as much as it is about fighting for eyeballs online. The stories and articles you see on the major online platforms require time, effort and money to produce, and yet their royalties are still peanuts compared to the more than 70 percent of the $73 billion digital advertising industry that just Google and Facebook alone control. But antitrust exemptions aren’t favored at the federal level, and it’s a long shot anyway in a Republican-controlled Congress that has struggled recently to complete any legislation at all.
What are the chances that Congress considers this exemption? What happens if this group of media outlets does get the right to bargain collectively? How could this change the digital media landscape as we see it today?
Rick Edmonds, media business analyst and leader of news transformation at Poynter
Chris Sagers, professor of law at Cleveland State University