The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday launched its investigation into the market dominance of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies, hitting hard on the impact of the tech giants’ platforms on news, layoffs of journalists and the spread of misinformation online.
In a hearing stretching over three hours, congress members and publishers pounded Google and Facebook for creating an “economic catastrophe” for news outlets. The figures were stark: Newsroom employees have declined by nearly half since 2008, while the audience for online news is larger than ever, said multiple editors and publishers.
“This year alone, over 2,900 reporters have lost their jobs,” including at print outlets and online-only publications, said Rep. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat who led the hearing. “If online news publishers can’t survive, who can?” he continued. “We cannot have a democracy without a free and diverse press.”
“If we don’t act now to change the structure of our markets, titans will continue to control speech, journalism will continue to suffer, and so will our democracy,” said Sally Hubbard, director of enforcement strategy at the Open Markets Institute.