Protect the work of local journalists

A reader of the Chronicle sent us an interesting editorial that ran in the Rapid City Journal last week. We would have eventually seen the editorial on our own, as we are subscribers to the Journal, but are a tad behind reading it due to our recent busy schedules, as in the Progress Edition that we put out last week.
The opinion piece is about Google’s dominance when it comes to the world of search engines, and its ability to use its size and market dominance to try to directly influence a public policy. When you ask anybody what search engine they use, the answer inevitably comes back Google. As the editorial points out, Google is so dominant in its field that it is used as a verb. When you want to look something up, you say you are going to “Google it.” That tells you all you need to know.
  According to the editorial, last year California Assembly member Buffy Wicks, a Democrat from Oakland, stood up to Google, the largest internet company in the world, and fought for California journalism by introducing the California Journalism Preservation Act (AB 886). Members of the Assembly supported her, passing the California Journalism Preservation Act, or CJPA, on an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 55-6.
As the legislation has awaited action in the Senate, Google punched back. The internet-search monopoly throttled traffic to California news sites in an attempt to threaten, intimidate and cajole California publications and lawmakers into dropping their support for the CJPA. This undemocratic attack on journalism was an attempt to silence the voices of local news providers, the author wrote.
“We will not be silenced,” the editorial said.
“The simple fact is that Google’s growth and dominance has come at the expense of local news and other businesses, which must play by their rules or risk obsolescence,” the editorial continued. “Newsrooms across this state and country are shrinking, and local newspapers are closing. In fact, 2,500 newspapers have closed their doors since 2004. Around the country, more than two newspapers close every week.”
More and more legislation is being introduced and passed that requires Google, Facebook, etc., to pay publishers and broadcasters for the use of their news outlets’ content. That’s the way it should be. These mediums use the work of journalists around the world to bring people into their sites. The journalists who provided that work should be compensated.
We see that even at our small newspapers. There are plenty of sites which we won’t name (we don’t want to give them the attention) that have a basic business plan of becoming a clearinghouse for content we produce for the sole reason of getting people to come to their site. This way, they can point to advertisers with the traffic on their site and say “look how popular we are!” The problem is they are making their money off our backs.
Most journalists have no problem with their work being shared, but we would just like acknowledgement and compensation for the work we put into it. We don’t think that is too much to ask.

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