Google's Funding Threats: What This Means for US News Outlets

avatar-user Latanskiy Nick 2024-05-23
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Google's potential pullback from the news industry could have sweeping consequences for American journalism. A new California bill is the spark that led Google to warn nonprofit newsrooms about halting funding from the Google News Initiative, which currently provides more than $300 million across thousands of outfits. This move has left many on edge about the future of local news.

The bill in question aims to support local news outlets by imposing a 7.25 percent tax on large corporations, like Google, when they sell user data to advertisers. The collected revenue would then be used to fund tax credits for California-based news organizations. This legislation, while specific to California, has caught the attention of newsrooms nationwide, fearing a domino effect.

Google's response has been swift and stern. The tech giant has already tested removing links to California news outlets as a countermeasure to the pending California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA). This proposed law would require platforms like Google and Meta to pay for linking to articles from California publishers. Google's stance is clear: such regulations set a concerning precedent that could extend beyond California, potentially altering the digital news ecosystem.

The stakes are high. News publishers have long argued that big tech should compensate them more fairly for the content they produce. A working paper estimated that if a nationwide law akin to California's were implemented, Google might owe publishers between $11.9 billion and $13.9 billion each year. Countries like Australia and Canada have faced similar issues, but eventually reached agreements with Google, ensuring compensation for content.

As the situation unfolds, the future of news funding hangs in the balance. Google's warning to pause new grants nationwide has understandably set off alarm bells among newsrooms. The outcome of these California bills could have far-reaching implications for journalism across the United States. For now, all eyes are on California, waiting to see how these legislative battles will shape the landscape of news and information.

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