The news business sinks ever closer to rock bottom

A consortium of newspaper publishers are preparing to take the unusual step of begging the nation’s legislature for the right to collectively negotiate with Facebook and Google.

(Generally, antitrust laws forbid this kind of collective bargaining because it reduces economic competition, except in specifically legislated cases such as labor unions.)

It’s easy to see why publishers want to team up and bargain as one: Facebook and Google continue to take what they want from the news media—content to churn through the News Feed and ever-more-recent search results—while soaking up all the advertising profits available. This is a game where the distributor keeps almost the whole pie, and only so many news organizations can survive on the scraps the Internet platforms allow to fall to the floor.

So, how’d we get here?

We can radically boil it down to three movements.