With the duopoly controlling a sizeable majority of digital publishing dollars, power dynamics have never seemed so one-sided, and the publishers, which are at the mercy of these tech giants and others, seem to have little ground to stand on.
Some members of Congress want to change thhis. Last week, Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) introduced the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, a temporary antitrust waiver intended to allow the news industry to negotiate with companies like those above as one united group.
According to a story at The Hill, the bill is meant as a way to not only provide news outlets with leverage in the face of the giants, but to also ensure the public has access to the best journalism, not only the journalism that can survive independently or is willing to comply with those companies.
Hoping for legislation of this kind is The News Media Alliance (NMA), which represents hundreds of outlets of varying size. It pressured Congress last year for such a waiver.
The power wielded by giants like Facebook and Google is crippling the ability of outlets to maintain revenue, often forcing them to downsize, or even close, as Little Things did at the end of February.
Most troubling: This type of power directly leads to the silencing of diverse outlets or journalists who lose their jobs. Perhaps this is an unintended result of the current state of digital advertising, however, it’s also one that is irreversible. The conditions are only going to worsen until someone cut the duopolies' power.
Cicilline recognizes this as a key issue for the U.S. press. Cicilline, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, stated: "Our democracy is strongest when we have a free, open press that informs citizens, holds public officials accountable, and roots out corruption.”
There is no guarantee this bill will result in any retooling the industry. But it is hopeful that government representatives are waking up to the dangers of an industry throttled by a few companies.