As I wrote back in 2012, newspapers’ raison d’etre, the news, is being spidered and copied, repurposed and regurgitated by thousands of aggregators and bloggers, Tweeters, Googlers and Yahooers and the like, until the original source is irrelevant — as a brand and as a financially going concern.
I quoted Alan Mutter’s Newsosaur blog that warned that newspapers are being outsmarted in the bid for mobile advertising. He noted Apple and Google have increased their efforts to grab a bigger share of the local advertising market via smart phones.
This week Congress apparently is taking notice.
The Associated Press is reporting that the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel heard from news media associations that accused big tech companies of jeopardizing the industry’s economic survival by putting news content on their platforms without fairly compensating those who created the news. (Sort of like this blog is doing right now.)
Rep. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat and the subcommittee chairman, was quoted as saying Congress must determine whether the antitrust laws “are equipped for the competition problems of our modern economy.”
David Chavern, president of the News Media Alliance which represents about 2,000 news organizations, was quoted as saying, “There’s a real urgency in the industry. We’re at crisis point now.”
But Google’s vice president of news Richard Gringas said in a statement Google drives billions of clicks to publishers’ websites, which creates revenue.
But too often online sites just plagiarize the costly and exclusive news content, denying newspapers customers. Of course, newspapers are also guilty of giving away their own content, often posting news stories online days before they are published in print for paying customers and paying advertisers.
Back in 2012 a Moody’s analysis warned, “At this point, there is no evidence digital strategies are returning most daily newspapers to positive growth. It is merely a way to moderate revenue declines.”
Newspapers keep cutting jobs — jobs that produce the content their customers are seeking. It is death spiral.