By Ramishah Maruf
Lawmakers are trying to find a solution to two intertwined trends: the rise of Big Tech and the decimation of local news.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar chaired a hearing on Capitol Hill last week to address the challenge, and is advancing legislation that would attempt to give local news outlets more leverage against Big Tech companies like Google and Meta.
As the tech giants continue to thrive off digital ad revenue, the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act would allow news outlets, regardless of size, to collectively bargain with advertisers, strengthening their negotiating position against Big Tech.
Klobuchar's father, Jim Klobuchar, had a long career as a local news journalist in the Midwest, working as a sportswriter and popular columnist in her home state of Minnesota.
"Growing up, newspapers, the First Amendment, was everything," Klobuchar said on "Reliable Sources" Sunday.
And over those years, Klobuchar said she saw many local newspapers merge or close down. But none of that happened at nearly the rate seen over the past decade following the advent of digital news.
Between 2005 and 2021, roughly 2,200 local US newspapers shutdown, according to the Washington Post. And while companies like Google's parent, Alphabet, have now surpassed $200 billion in annual revenue, local newspapers' ad revenue declined from $37 billion in 2018 to less than $9 billion in 2021, according to Pew Research.
Google generated those incredible earnings due mainly to market forces — but Klobuchar thinks that lawmakers and regulators can rein in Big Tech to give print and local media outlets a fighting chance to survive and compete.