There have been press reports that Facebook is contemplating a separate news section in its platform and that, as part of that, it would license news content from publishers. Licensing and paying for news content is a good idea, and continued access to quality journalism would be an absolute good for Facebook users.
However, we still have many questions about the idea, including which publishers would be included, what kinds of terms they would be offered, and what it would mean for local journalism in particular. We are also still faced with the fact that Facebook holds vastly greater bargaining power than any single publisher, even the very largest ones. Facebook is already a de facto regulator of the news publishing industry and simply can’t be trusted to determine the future of our free press. Publishers need an even playing field to collectively fight for quality journalism — and we need to pass the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act to get us there.
David Chavern is former President & CEO of the News/Media Alliance. Chavern has 30 years of experience in executive strategic and operational roles. Prior to the Alliance, he completed a decade-long tenure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.