Wealthy media investors look to GOP Congress for help with Google, Facebook

A F Branco cartoon July 4

Cartoon by A. F. Branco at comicallyincorrect.com

The term “fake news” has become a battle cry for supporters of President Donald Trump, but they aren’t the only team in town expressing concerns. High profile newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post are looking to the GOP-controlled Congress in hopes of being able to seek reform as a group instead of individually.

Among the major actors in this endeavor are some mega rich leftists:

“Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos (worth $83.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index), New York Times owner Carlos Slim (worth $61.1 billion), and Buffalo News owner Warren Buffett ($76.9 billion)…” [NY Sun]  

Slim may be an unfamiliar name to many Americans. He is listed by Forbes as “Mexico’s richest man.” 

The NYT has been forced to publish retractions on smear stories about Trump, including First Lady Melania, and the paper’s inaccuracy on other matters was even pointed out by Trump skeptic, former FBI head James Comey.

Targets for the publishers include Google (can’t resist reminding one of the founders was born in Russia since media are obsessed with that nation right now) and Facebook.

Here’s the gist of the whole argument, from an article in the NYT:

“Google and Facebook continue to gobble up the digital advertising market, siphoning away revenue that once paid for the quality journalism that Google and Facebook now offer for free.”

Will the publishers be successful?

It’s doubtful for a number of reasons, among them, the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Then again, our bureaucracy often does as it pleases, so if those three incredibly rich men want something and roll enough dough into their efforts, who knows?

You can almost predict top results for Google, the search engine (in my opinion) with a definite penchant for leftist ideology. It’s hard to understand how the publishers justify asking for anything, considering the enormous hold they have as resources for citations from cyberspace to TV to wire services.

The revenue model for publishing has changed drastically, courtesy of the technology that makes our lives both easier and harder at the same time. I face the challenge here.

I tried search engine ads at my former site, but models don’t favor indie publishers, even those of us who don’t publish fake news and unlike the titans seeking alleged redress, actually label our opinion pieces as opinion instead of news. I also worried about my readers’ private information being shared, something I had no control over by participating in those 3rd party ads.

Technology has certainly delivered a blow to revenue in publishing of all kinds. I don’t think more government is the answer, though. In the end, I think that would make the quality of “news” decline even more. And that is saying a lot.

There’s something else to consider. It is not uncommon for independent media or non-legacy media to reveal real news those titans routinely ignore. I fail to see how Bezos and company have any ground to stand on when it comes to criticizing people for sketchy news tales.

Despite the fact many of these newspapers promote policies based on collectivism or socialism, the bottom line is they want to make money just like many other capitalists.

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To learn more about A. F. Branco’s work, visit his Facebook page and see more at Comically Incorrect.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/July 10, 2017)

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About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.

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