In the epicenter of big tech, Representative Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) joined Audrey Cooper, the Executive Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, CEO of CalMatters and the former Executive Editor of Bay Area News Group Neil Chase, and Save Journalism Project co-founders Laura Bassett, a laid-off HuffPost reporter, and John Stanton, laid-off former D.C. bureau chief of BuzzFeed, to shine a light on the plight of local news and a key culprit: big tech.
n the first quarter of 2019, the media has shed more than 2,400 jobs – including East Bay Express staffers – and, over the past 10 years, newsrooms have declined in size by 45%. The plight of the journalism industry has generated bipartisan congressional action, a rather unique occurrence in this polarized political climate. And while the journalism industry faces many challenges, the focus of Congress’ current action is to halt big tech’s negative impact on the economic sustainability of the free press. Wednesday’s speakers will address this unusual bipartisan action and the widespread consequences of the loss of local news.
According to Representative Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), “Not that long ago, the Bay Area was home to over 1,500 journalists, but now there are less than 300 serving roughly 7 million people. This problem is not unique to our community—it is happening in every corner of the country, and we need to act. During a time when fact and accountability are under constant attack, today’s conversation about ways to preserve and protect local news and high-quality journalism is critical to the health of our democracy.”
According to Neil Chase, CEO of CalMatters and the former Executive Editor of Bay Area News Group, “I’m glad we had such a deep, meaningful conversation about the challenges facing journalism today, right here in downtown San Francisco. If we can’t solve it here, we can’t hope to help the places across America that don’t have the technology and financial resources that are available in a place like this.”
According to Laura Bassett, laid-off HuffPost senior politics reporter and co-founder of the Save Journalism Project, “As our country grapples with natural disasters, political turmoil, violence, and everyday life, Americans rely on journalists and the news industry to explain and break through the chaos. But, for that process to survive, we need well-staffed newsrooms and a blossoming industry. Instead, big tech is decimating journalism. Facebook, Google, and big tech have consumed the digital landscape and continue to threaten local and national journalism. We need our elected officials to weigh in, to reign in big tech, and to save the journalism industry, before this goes any further.”
And, according to John Stanton, laid-off former D.C. bureau chief of BuzzFeed and co-founder of the Save Journalism Project, “The irony of all ironies, we live streamed today’s event on Facebook to ensure it reached the largest audience. The mere fact that we had to rely on the conglomerate proves our point: Facebook and Google have too much power. Together, they control the landscape, the audience, and the content. I saw this first hand at BuzzFeed, when Facebook, without notice, changed its algorithm, resulting in huge viewership and financial losses for the company. As more and more local and national news outlets feel the death grip of big tech, we need Congress to step in and save journalism.”