A little fun, or not


today’s internet distribution systems distort the flow of economic value derived from good reporting. Google and Facebook dominate web traffic and online ad income. Together, they account for more than 70% of the $73 billion spent each year on digital advertising, and they eat up most of the growth. Nearly 80% of all online referral traffic comes from Google and Facebook. This is an immensely profitable business. The net income of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, was $19 billion last year. Facebook’s was $10 billion. But the two digital giants don’t employ reporters.

The News Media Alliance, which represents digital and print publishers (including Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal), is proposing a solution: a new law granting a limited safe harbor under antitrust for publishers to negotiate collectively with dominant online platforms. This would grant media organizations the flexibility to expand innovative digital models of news distribution, while also giving them more ways to sustain high-quality journalism.

High quality journalism? We thought the solution at the end of the first paragraph was going to be to fire all the reporters. Funny bit:

individuals wanting special treatment are the newspaper owners themselves. Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos (worth $83.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index), New York Times owner Carlos Slim (worth $61.1 billion), and Buffalo News owner Warren Buffett ($76.9 billion), publicly pleading poverty, are asking Congress for a helping hand in their negotiations with Google, controlled by Sergey Brin ($45.6 billion) and Larry Page ($46.8 billion).

We can’t help wondering if the $300 billion net worth media owners share their employees’ opinion of Western Civilization.

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