State of the News: Texas Exposes Google’s Serious Threat to the Texas News Industry

A recording of the call is available here

To read the report, click here

Earlier today, Nick Charles, Save Journalism Project’s spokesperson, joined by Ken Gude, policy director of the Save Journalism Project, along with 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, discussed a new report The State of the News: Texas from the Save Journalism Project.

Specifically focused on the Texas news industry, the report delves into the crisis sweeping across the journalism industry and outlines how Texas has been one of the hardest hit states. Google’s anticompetitive conduct hasn’t spared news publishers, whose web traffic and two primary revenue streams — subscriptions and advertising revenue — have been slashed. While Google sits back and watches money stream into its pockets, news publishers across Texas are struggling to combat the spread of news deserts and effectively informing its communities. 

This report is crucial as it gives newsroom leadership, policymakers, elected officials and the public at large critical insights from those most impacted by Google’s monopolistic reign.

Ken Gude, policy director of the Save Journalism Project, said, “Google and news publishers directly compete for the attention of web users in order to sell them advertising. Google is winning. But we think Google is winning not just because it is better at it, but because it has an unfair advantage due to its market power. And it all runs through its dominant browser, Chrome. 

Take Google’s recent announcement that it will phase out third-party cookies on Chrome. Its competitors’ cookies will now be blocked. But not Google’s. Google’s own study last year showed that eliminating third party cookies would reduce news publishers’ revenue by an average of 62%. This will be devastating for news publishers in Texas and around the country.”

“Texas is a big state with a mix of big city papers and a lot of small towns served by local and regional daily and weekly papers,” said Nick Charles, Save Journalism Project’s spokesperson. “But Texas is also one of the hardest hit states in the journalism crisis. According to research by the University of North Carolina, 194 newspapers have closed in Texas since 2004, and 92% of those papers served rural communities. All of these closures have created 21 news deserts in Texas, making it the state with the second most news deserts in the country. ”

Laura Bassett, laid-off HuffPost politics reporter and co-founder of the Save Journalism Project, said, “Here at the Save Journalism Project we want to explore why and how the news industry is suffering and being forced to downsize. Our objective is to raise awareness about the decimation of the business model by big tech giants like Google and Facebook. We’re now releasing a series of reports focused on news deserts and the state of the news industry in Texas that will highlight the epidemic sweeping Texas’ news industry.”

John Stanton, laid-off former D.C. bureau chief of BuzzFeed and co-founder of the Save Journalism Project, said, “Google, while not the only thing harming the journalism industry, is the dominant player in the online marketplace, combining unparalleled market power in both web traffic and digital advertising. That gives them an enormous advantage over news publishers online. While ad revenue for news publishers has collapsed by 50% over the last seven years to a combined $14.3 billion, Google’s has tripled over the same period, to an astonishing $116.3 billion. We thought it important that the negative impact that Google has had on the journalism industry in this state be highlighted.