Despite recent testimony on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee, some of its members are still in search of answers to hold big tech companies accountable for "unfair market dominance."
The latest example is Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD) who is demanding Google "explain why its platform dominance is not a key factor in crushing local and regional print news, investigative journalism, and photojournalism."
Raskin expressed concern Monday that Google is "scraping" news content from publishers without passing along any of the revenue that they generate through their news service. He is also is asking the company to address its use of "accelerated mobile pages" to keep readers inside their platform and help collect user data and determine how to monetize ad services.
Also in the crosshairs: Google's decision to phase out third-party cookies, which he argues will "take away the tool that allows news webistes to analyze user data, seriously hampering competitive engagement in the digital ad space with Google."
A study by the News Media Alliance found that "the amount of news in Google search results ranges from 16 to 40 percent, and the platform received an estimated $4.7 billion in revenue in 2018 from crawling and scraping news publishers’ content – without paying the publishers for that use." It also found that traffic from Google Search to news publisher sites rose by more than 25 percent to approximately 1.6 billion visits per week as of January 2018.
“News publishers need to continue to invest in quality journalism, and they can’t do that if the platforms take what they want without paying for it," News Media Alliance President & CEO David Chavern said in the press release. "Information wants to be free, but reporters need to get paid.”
To help struggling local journalism, the tech company has launched the Google News Initiative which strives to ensure that publishers can have their work seen on a wider scale.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the Google News Initiative provided funding to more than 5,300 local news outlets, waiving ad fees for certain outlets and providing $15 million to the Support Local News Campaign. It also launched the Journalism Emergency Relief Fund to "support small and medium-sized news organizations producing original news for local communities."
However, Google only recently said it would begin to pay publishers for "high-quality content" for a news service that would launch later this year, but has yet to announce further details.
A spokesperson for Google did not immediately return FOX Business' request for comment on Raskin's inquiry.
According to Penny Abernathy, a professor at the University of North Carolina’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media, roughly 1,800 newspapers have closed in the United States since 2004, including more than 60 dailies and 1,700 weeklies. In addition, the Pew Research Center found that newspapers have shed half of their employees since 2008, with roughly 88,000 newsroom employees as of 2019, cut loose as opposed to about 27,000 jobs compared to the previous year.