Fixing Online Advertising and News: A Matter of Life and Death

This post appears on Medium – click here to read the full article. Below is a short excerpt.

As the COVID-19 pandemic reshapes life in the 21st century, the news industry’s long history does not protect it from fundamental change. One major issue the crisis has illuminated is many advertisers’ reluctance — for brand safety reasons — to advertise against news, whether by directly blocking news sites or blocking terms related to large news events (such as the pandemic or the presidential election). The problem is enormous, as are the stakes. Advertising remains the primary source of revenue for most news publishers, although even before the pandemic, news publishers earned a small fraction of the money spent advertising online, with the lion’s share going to Facebook and Google. If the news industry cannot be sustained, bad actors may rush to fill the void, sharing misinformation that can be dangerous, even deadly, especially in a health crisis. This is a question of health — both that of the industry and the public.

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