Why the California Journalism Preservation Act is putting support of the news ecosystem at risk

A pending bill in the California state legislature, the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), would create a “link tax” that would require Google to pay for simply connecting Californians to news articles. We have long said that this is the wrong approach to supporting journalism. If passed, CJPA may result in significant changes to the services we can offer Californians and the traffic we can provide to California publishers.

By helping people find news stories, we help publishers of all sizes grow their audiences at no cost to them. CJPA would up-end that model. It would favor media conglomerates and hedge funds—who’ve been lobbying for this bill—and could use funds from CJPA to continue to buy up local California newspapers, strip them of journalists, and create more ghost papers that operate with a skeleton crew to produce only low-cost, and often low-quality, content. CJPA would also put small publishers at a disadvantage and limit consumers’ access to a diverse local media ecosystem.

As we’ve shared when other countries have considered similar proposals, the uncapped financial exposure created by CJPA would be unworkable. If enacted, CJPA in its current form would create a level of business uncertainty that no company could accept. To prepare for possible CJPA implications, we are beginning a short-term test for a small percentage of California users. The testing process involves removing links to California news websites, potentially covered by CJPA, to measure the impact of the legislation on our product experience. Until there’s clarity on California’s regulatory environment, we’re also pausing further investments in the California news ecosystem, including new partnerships through Google News Showcase, our product and licensing program for news organizations, and planned expansions of the Google News Initiative.

A better approach

To be clear, we believe CJPA undermines news in California. We don’t take these decisions lightly and want to be transparent with California publishers, lawmakers, and our users. To avoid an outcome where all parties lose and the California news industry is left worse off, we urge lawmakers to take a different approach.

For more than two decades, we’ve provided substantial support to help news publishers navigate the changing digital landscape and innovate. We’ve rolled out Google News Showcase, which operates in 26 countries, including the U.S., and has more than 2,500 participating publications. Through the Google News Initiative we’ve partnered with more than 7,000 news publishers around the world, including 200 news organizations and 6,000 journalists in California alone.

These investments in the news ecosystem are geared towards helping journalists and news publishers evolve in response to the rapidly changing way people are looking for and consuming information. It’s well known that people are getting news from sources like short-form video, topical newsletters, social media, and curated podcasts, and many are avoiding the news entirely. In line with those trends, just 2% of queries on Google Search are news-related. Nevertheless, we want to continue making targeted contributions to the news ecosystem to help news publishers navigate this inflection point. CJPA as currently constructed would end these investments.

We’ve been engaging with California publishers and lawmakers throughout the legislative process and have proposed reasonable and balanced alternatives to CJPA. A healthy news industry in California will require support from both the California government and a broad base of private companies. This support should involve predictable, broad-based contributions, structured in ways that do not harm smaller, local publishers to benefit the largest players and hedge fund owners. It must also maintain the principles of the open web, which is critical to ensuring news publishers can connect with people for free.

Looking ahead, we will continue our efforts to work with lawmakers on alternative paths that will allow us to continue linking to news and supporting the news ecosystem in California.

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Source Link: https://blog.google/products/news/california-journalism-preservation-act-puts-news-ecosystem-at-risk/