Mainstream newspapers band together to fight ‘inexorable threat’ from Facebook & Google

Mainstream newspapers band together to fight ‘inexorable threat’ from Facebook & Google
Newspapers including the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and New York Times have formed an alliance and are seeking an antitrust exemption from Congress in an effort to negotiate collaboratively with Facebook and Google.

The newspapers believe that the internet giants disproportionately profit from digital advertising without employing content-creators.

"[Facebook and Google] don't employ reporters: They don't dig through public records to uncover corruption, send correspondents into war zones, or attend last night's game to get the highlights. They expect an economically squeezed news industry to do that costly work for them," said David Chavern, president of the News Media Alliance, which leads the campaign. 

"The only way publishers can address this inexorable threat is by banding together," Chavern added.

Google and Facebook currently run the table when it comes to advertising online, as they command 70 percent of the $73 billion digital advertising industry in the US, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. Meanwhile, US newspaper ad revenue last year was $18 billion, down from $50 billion a decade ago.

In response to the prospect of the newspapers’ bypassing antitrust laws to press on the internet companies, Facebook ‒ which recently celebrated 2 billion users ‒ said it wanted to “help quality journalism,” and that the company was “making progress” in working with news publishers.

Google issued a similar statement, saying it wanted to support the news industry's ongoing transition towards digital.

"In recent years we've built numerous specialized products and technologies, developed specifically to help distribute, fund, and support newspapers,” a Google spokesperson told CNBC. 

As far as public trust is concerned, neither industry is faring particularly well. Only 27 percent of Americans say they have high confidence in newspapers’ reporting, according to a Gallup poll from June 7-11. For news on the internet the number is even lower at 16 percent.

The internet giants have faced pressure on a number of fronts lately.

Google was recently slapped with a record €2.4 billion ($2.7 billion) fine by EU antitrust regulators for competition abuses related to its shopping business.

Google and Facebook are now fighting a proposed bill that would require internet service providers and websites to obtain users’ consent before sharing their personal information, including browsing history and location.

The Internet Association – a group made up of Google and Facebook, along with Amazon, eBay, Microsoft, Netflix, PayPal, Reddit, Twitter and others – issued a statement saying the bill could “upend the consumer experience online and stifle innovation.”