Posts tagged with "newspaper"

illustration, 360 MAGAZINE, Alejandra Villagra

The Decline of Black Media

Spokesperson for the Save Journalism Project, Nick Charles, has a new op-ed in the NY Daily News discussing the impact of Google and Facebook’s decimation of the news industry’s business model and specifically the decline of black media. What were traditionally spaces for communities of color to spread news and ideas are being forced to shutter their newsrooms because of big tech’s stranglehold on the industry, resulting in a lack of representation and a rapid decline of coverage for these communities.

As Charles explains, “revenue from digital advertising, which used to go to news publishers, is more often than not in big tech’s pockets, leading to an unchecked balance of power and gaping holes in local news coverage nationwide… Informing African-American communities should be put before Facebook and Google’s profits. People of color have worked and died so American democracy includes everyone. But there is no democracy, no freedom, without the fourth estate.”

Charles’ op-ed is below and available online.

Some remember well the world where events, issues, policies and histories impacting black people were rarely acknowledged or reported by the mainstream press. In New York City, if it happened above 96th St., it wasn’t news. That began to change after the urban riots of the late 1960s and the Kerner Commission, which prompted mainstream media to begin hiring African-American reporters. African-American media, which had always filled the breach, did hemorrhage talent, but continued invaluable community coverage.

With the emergence of the internet, as legacy media, newspapers, magazines, radio and television news were joined by newer platforms and social media, there was always space to cover disasters like Hurricane Katrina as well as enduring environmental, racial and social injustices. But now that space is shrinking rapidly. McClatchy filing for bankruptcy is just the latest and most ominous example.

An unfettered and thriving press is paramount, especially to otherwise forgotten communities. But what happens when outlets are forced to shutter because big tech chokes off advertising oxygen that is essential to the media’s survival?

Newspapers that adapted and survived the last digital revolution did so through advertising. But today’s digital ad market is dominated by Google and Facebook. Revenue from digital advertising, which used to go to news publishers, is more often than not in big tech’s pockets, leading to an unchecked balance of power and gaping holes in local news coverage nationwide.

Google recently announced it was doing away with third-party cookies by 2022, further jeopardizing the fate of the voices and publishers of communities of color. The move will hit smaller news outlets hard by substantially reducing the value of advertising on their websites. Most don’t have the kind of first-party information nor the kind of scale that will now be required to be valuable to digital advertisers.

Newsrooms across the country are experiencing layoffs at an alarming rate. In 2019, the media shed over 7,800 jobs. The number of black journalists and reporters in newsrooms has also been impacted, with the number of black journalists working at daily newspapers dropping by 40% since 1997. Countless colleagues have left the profession, taking with them their passion, expertise and the trust they amassed over years with community leaders, politicians and activists.

Unable to keep up with a business model steamrolled by the likes of Facebook and Google, the industry is reaching the point of no return. Big tech’s dominance over the digital ad market and unrivaled capacity to scale and monetize its platforms is having drastic effects on journalism as a whole — with especially profound impact on communities of color.

Black legacy outlets, home to some of the most committed journalists and activists in our country’s history, have been the bulwark of accountability for many when racial tensions kept even the government from its role in protecting its citizens. The Chicago Defender itself was one of the sparks in The Great Migration.

Alongside downsizing and retracting their print editions, examples like the Amsterdam News showed a 21% drop in circulation from 2014-2015; The Chicago Defender’s circulation fell by 18% in 2015. Not only are black communities losing their news outlets, black perspectives across the news industry are losing the spaces to voice their opinions.

Founded in 1943 and for decades a space for black communities to share the most pressing news and ideas of the time, Alabama’s longest-running black newspaper, the Mobile Beacon, reported it was planning to close its doors after 2019. It is one of many black legacy media icons in jeopardy.

Frederick Douglass once said: “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” Informing African-American communities should be put before Facebook and Google’s profits. People of color have worked and died so American democracy includes everyone. But there is no democracy, no freedom, without the fourth estate.

Charles, a freelance writer, works with Save Journalism Project.

Journalism in America is facing an existential threat from the monopolistic control of tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Apple. Big tech’s dominance over the digital advertising market and their unrivaled capacity to monetize its platforms are having drastic effects on journalism as a whole.

https://savejournalism.org/

Save Journalism Project Launches To Protect Our Press From Big Tech

BuzzFeed Reports on Recently Laid Off Journalists Serving  As Spox For New Campaign To Save Journalism From Monopolistic Power of Big Tech Companies

Today, BuzzFeed reports on the Save Journalism Project that’s launching to raise awareness and engagement about the critical need to save journalism as it faces an existential threat—the monopolistic power of big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple destroying the economic model of the entire journalism industry, whether its traditional circulation newspapers or digital news outlets. At the same time, Google and Facebook have made acquisition after acquisition, gaining a monopolistic position that lets them dominate the digital advertising marketplace and distribute massive amounts of content from news publishers on their platforms without paying to produce the content. Just now are Facebook, Google, and other tech giants facing federal government and Congressional antitrust scrutiny.

Two recently laid off reporters will serve as spokespeople for the Save Journalism Project, Laura Bassett  and John StantonLearn More and Join the Fight at SaveJournalism.org and@SaveTheNews.

BuzzFeed: These Reporters Lost Their Jobs. Now They’re Fighting Back Against Big Tech.

“John Stanton and Laura Bassett are warning about what they believe the tech industry is doing to journalism, as thousands have lost their jobs this year alone.

By Rosie Gray”

Two prominent reporters who were recently laid off from digital media outlets are forming a new advocacy group formed to raise awareness about big tech’s impact on the journalism industry.

John Stanton, a longtime congressional correspondent and former BuzzFeed News Washington bureau chief, and Laura Bassett, a former culture and political reporter for nearly 10 years at the Huffington Post, have teamed up to launch a new initiative called the Save Journalism Project. The two have first-hand experience with the troubled state of the news industry: Stanton was laid off from BuzzFeed News during a round of layoffs that affected 200 people company-wide this winter and spurred a unionization drive among the news staff. Bassett lost her job in similar fashion in January after Huffington Post laid off 20 employees as part of larger cuts at its parent company, Verizon Media.

This year has been one of the worst in recent memory for journalism jobs. Across the industry, thousands have lost their jobs: from BuzzFeed News, Vice, CNN, and others across the country at local publications. Media organizations have been imperiled by crashing advertising revenues as Facebook and Google vacuum up available ad dollars.

Their new project will be set up as a nonprofit, according to Eddie Vale, a Democratic consultant whose firm is providing the man-power to launch the effort. Vale pitched Bassett on the idea, and the two of them brought in Stanton. Vale said initial funding had been secured from “someone who doesn’t want to be public so Google and Facebook don’t go after them,” and the group plans to continue to fundraise. So far, the pair have co-authored testimony given to the Senate Judiciary Committee highlighting the tech giants’ impact on the news industry — “since being laid off, we’ve made it our mission to understand how the digital marketplace works and how Big Tech is killing the journalism industry,” they wrote — flown a plane above Google’s I/O conference, and authored op-eds.

A key part of their goal is to get journalists, who aren’t known for showing a keen interest in the business side of their publications or for engaging in advocacy themselves, to take an active role in defending the future of their jobs. In an interview, Stanton said they were “trying to educate the public and members of Congress and also start encouraging our colleagues to speak up.”

“Reporters are not generally super interested in speaking about their own problems and about things that affect them directly because they feel like it becomes a conflict of interest, and in certain ways that’s true,” Stanton said. “But when the future of the free press is being pretty seriously endangered by something, I think it’s incumbent upon us to stand up for ourselves.”

Like many reporters, Bassett said she had “never really had to pay attention to the financial side of journalism.”

But “after getting laid off, I started to become really interested in why all of these amazing news publishers were sort of going under, having to lay off staff, why we were losing local newspapers. It’s a tragedy, it’s really bad for democracy.”

Their effort comes at a time of increased scrutiny of the tech industry on the part of the federal government as well as Congress as public concern mounts over repeated privacy scandals, technology companies’ role in spreading misinformation, and their dominance over certain industries. The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission reportedly made a deal to divide potential antitrust investigations between them; Apple and Google will fall under the purview of the DOJ, while the FTC took Facebook and Amazon. The House Judiciary Committee announced it would “conduct a top-to-bottom review of the market power held by giant tech platforms.”

The Save Journalism Project’s founders are hoping to steer the public conversation around the negative effects of Big Tech towards its impact on journalism.

Stanton, who lives in New Orleans, mentioned examples like that city’s local paper, the Times-Picayune, which laid off its entire staff last month. Around the country, Stanton said, “local reporters are so overtaxed. They’re doing as good a job as they can but there’s not enough of them.”

At the moment, Stanton and Bassett are more focused on warning the public and the industry about the issue than on proposing solutions.

“I do think that everyone is starting to see a need to break up and regulate these companies or something along those lines,” Bassett said. “And with regards to how they’re going to make journalism viable again, I don’t frankly know…I think right now we’re starting with just getting this conversation out into the public and making people aware of exactly what’s going on. I do hope at some point we graduate into saying, ‘here’s a list of policy proposals, here’s exactly what needs to happen.'”

Stanton and Bassett plan to interview elected officials, candidates and colleagues in the media about the industry’s crisis, and started with conducting on-camera interviews with Reps. Mark DeSaulnier and Ruben Gallego. They plan to circulate a letter with which media companies can sign on to their cause. And their first official event will be at the annual Congressional Baseball Game, where they plan to distribute a physical newspaper laying out the problems on their agenda.

“The DC press corps is a really powerful constituency within our industry,” Stanton said. “If we can get our colleagues [there] to start talking about this it will help more broadly.”