Some of the nation’s largest newspapers, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal have a problem on their hands. They’re having a hard time competing against new media outlets such as Google and Facebook. With that in mind, they are asking Congress to grant them an exemption from existing anti-trust laws so they can negotiate more effectively or something. Nope… I’m not even kidding. (Investors.com)
The New York Times (NYT), Wall Street Journal parent News Corp. (NWSA), The Washington Post (owned by Amazon (AMZN) founder and CEO Jeff Bezos) and other newspapers across the country will seek an antitrust exemption from Congress to bargain collectively with Facebook and Alphabet-unit Google, seeking to “change the balance of power,” the New York Times said Sunday.
Facebook and Google increasingly are where people go to for news online, grabbing much of related ad revenue based on newspapers’ content. With papers trying to adapt to a digital world, but that’s difficult with so much online revenue going to aggregators like Google and Facebook. Various media entities have tried to fight back individually.
The Wall Street Journal in February stopped letting Google users read WSJ articles for free. That drove subscriptions, but traffic from Google plunged 44%, Bloomberg News reported.
If you can believe it, the New York Times actually described this as a battle of, “the supplicants and the serfs” vs. the new royals Facebook and Google.”
I’m sorry… did you actually just say, “the serfs?” Isn’t the New York Times owned by Carlos Slim, one of the richest men in the country? And I’m fairly sure that the WaPo was bought by Jeff Bezos, someone who had already become phenomenally wealthy by capitalizing on this new, internet based economy which you’re now complaining about.
The rampant hypocrisy here was far too much for the New York Sun’s Ira Stoll, who took them to task for their brazen demands.
Maybe Serf Bezos should have considered the economics of the news industry when he bought the Washington Post, or Serf Slim when he bought his stake in the New York Times. The idea that Congress needs to roll to the rescue of “serfs” like Messrs. Bezos, Buffett, and Slim to bail them out of bad investments just doesn’t pass the laugh test.
In respect of the Times, it’s particularly comical, because, as an editorial matter, the paper generally favors stricter antitrust enforcement. The newspaper that less than two years ago was editorializing that Congress “should also study whether there are ways to strengthen the antitrust laws,” now is backing the move for what its own columnist describes as “an anticompetitive safe haven,” “a limited antitrust exemption.”
As Stoll goes on to point out, it’s fairly well established court precedent that anti-trust laws (whether you approve of such laws or not) are in place to protect the consumer from runaway high prices which can spiral out of control in a marketplace with no competition. They aren’t there to protect one group of billionaires from the predatory moves of another group of billionaires competing against them.
The internet changed everything once it picked up a head of steam and that’s just a fact of life that everyone has had to adjust to. (The internet always ruins everything it touches eventually, a running theme of mine for quite some time. But that’s another matter entirely.) If you want to go back to dominating the news game, produce better news content that people will seek out. If you are delivering the best product, be it on your website or traditional fish-wrap, the advertisers will follow the consumers. You don’t need Congress to cut you a special deal.
But if they do, Hot Air should certainly be getting a piece of that action as well. Just saying…