Small news publishers team up to negotiate with tech giants Google and Facebook

A group of small independent publishers from across Australia have come together to negotiate with Google and Facebook to post their news content on their platforms.

This is something that major media organizations, including the CBA, have also had to do since the federal government introduced new laws this year.

The Alliance of Public Interest Publishers includes the Tarrengower Times in central Victoria, and the Koondrook and Barham Bridge newspaper on the Murray River on the border with News South Wales.

They are part of the Australian Rural and Regional News network along with Naracoorte Community News, Cape York Weekly, Narrandera Argus and a host of other regional publications.

The media code introduced by the federal government last year means that publishers must now negotiate with the online search engine and social media giants in a bid to make them pay to distribute and repost content from news organizations .

The decision at the time led Facebook to block access to news sites for several days before a compromise was reached with the government.

Alliance spokesman James Harker-Mortlock said that after the Seven West Media Networks and Nine made deals with Google and Facebook, small publishers were left behind.

“They can, if they want to, and I’m happy to hear that Google is at least looking a little more positive.

There are over 300 independent publishers in Australia and Mr Harker-Mortlock said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) must allow publishers to be able to bargain collectively.

“So what we want to see is that there is proper recognition of the work being done by the small publishers who, on the whole, probably have as many readers, listeners and users as the big one. of the city, â€he said.

A man holding the newspaper he owns and edits
Chris Earl says the loss of bush information services is sad for communities.(ABC Central Victoria: Sarah Lawrence)

Chris Earle is the independent publisher and editor of the Loddon Herald in Wedderburn in central Victoria.

He is a former Liberal government adviser and journalist, and launched the Loddon Herald in January of this year during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Earle said that while online and social media were tools that publishers use for content awareness and promotion, ultimately newspapers, whether print or online, remain a critical part. of the business model of many companies.

The Buloke Times, a family newspaper that has been around for 145 years, said 2020 has been one of the toughest years for small businesses in recent memory as ad revenue has become harder to obtain from local businesses.

But there was also the birth of newspapers such as the Ararat Advocate – which began in May 2020 after the closure of Ararat Advertiser – and the Horsham Times, launched after the Wimmera Mail-Times ceased to appear the same. year.

According to the Independent Publishers Network, they are not betting their future on royalties from social media and search engine companies.

“It’s not like we depend on that. I mean, it would definitely be a boost if we get it. But we’re all very independent,†Mr. Harker-Mortlock said.

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