Journalists and Publishers Call Out Big Tech’s Negative Impact on Journalism and Democracy Ahead of House Antitrust Hearing

Big Tech is destroying the business model for the journalism industry by siphoning off advertising revenue that used to go to news publishers and dominating web traffic. That monopolistic control is finally under scrutiny from federal and state regulators, and today’s hearing in its antitrust investigation of the tech giants with Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division Makan Delrahim and Chair of the Federal Trade Commission Joseph Simons comes not a moment too soon. 

David Dayen, Executive Editor of the American Prospect, Nick Charles, freelance writer and former editor of AOL Black Voices, and Save Journalism Project co-founders Laura Bassett, laid-off HuffPost Senior Politics Reporter, and John Stanton, laid-off former D.C. bureau chief of BuzzFeed, issue the following statements in advance of the hearing:

David Dayen, Executive Editor of the American Prospect, says: “I’ve seen too many of my friends and colleagues in this industry laid off, because the money generated from their labor has been sucked up into the gaping maw of Big Tech. We simply cannot rely on traditional revenue models in journalism and expect to survive. The antitrust authorities have let down this country with their lack of attention to the slow death of a profession that’s vital to democracy. They need to wake up to this problem and work to solve it.”

Nick Charles, freelance writer and former editor in chief of AOL Black Voices, says: “The collapse of ad revenue for news publishers has had a profound impact on communities of color in America. Publications that have served these communities, like the 115-year-old Chicago Defender, which ended its print publication earlier this year, are closing or shifting entirely online. There still exists a digital divide and communities of color have historically had less access to the internet and these changes are shutting them out of access to the news and information they’ve relied on for decades.” 

Laura Bassett, Save Journalism Project co-founder and former HuffPost reporter, says: “Google and Facebook dominate the digital ad market, siphoning off billions that used to go to news publishers. That revenue collapse has pushed the journalism industry to the brink. Journalism is the only business with special protection in the Constitution. Congress and the federal government must step in to save journalism.” 

John Stanton, Save Journalism Project co-founder and former BuzzFeed reporter, says:  “These digital robber barons are not interested in democracy, free expression, or journalism; they’re only interested in the bottom line. News websites are completely at the mercy of Google and Facebook and are extremely vulnerable to unilateral changes to their platforms that can tank their readership and revenue.”