The implementation of the E.U.’s GDPR last May brought with it a certain déjà vu of Y2K. A low-level panic seemed to buzz across the publishing sphere with pockets of code-red alarm popping up, worried about life after May 25.
Since then, the impact has been pretty minimal. New consent boxes endlessly pop up across websites, but the rain of emails has stopped, and many outlets have caught up to the new regulations.
However, some publishers in the U.S., among them newspaper giants like Gatehouse Media and Tribune Publishing/Tronc, former owner of the L.A. Times, have decided to simply block E.U. users rather than comply with the new data standards.
Nieman Lab reports that it is more than a few outlets. A source said he had counted more than 1,000 U.S. news sites so far that have blocked him in the U.K.
Other readers running into trouble include those who travel often for business and ex-pats who want to keep up with local news.
Readers of local news have taken the biggest hit. Often, a small newspaper will have few international readers, so taking the time and resources to revamp how advertising is bought and delivered digitally makes little sense.
However, there are still readers who rely on those resources, and even the loss of a small outlet leaves a hole in the larger media landscape. Nieman Lab also notes that the ability to access news from the U.S. is essential for E.U. citizens interested in what’s happening here.
The situation involves data and the ability to easily control advertising revenue — but it also strikes at the heart of a democratic press.
The importance of journalism goes beyond revenue and business models. It provides an essential record of the world around us, and that record should be available to anyone seeking information.
Thus, a failure to comply, particularly by large metropolitan outlets or companies like Gatehouse, which own a near monopoly of local newspapers and sites, reveals a disregard for the public’s best interest. The result is isolationism and a lack of accountability to journalism itself.