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Bill to protect journalism needed

November 4, 2018 GMT

The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, Ohio, published this editorial on Oct. 26:

Important federal legislation to let hometown news organizations band together to negotiate with the massive online platforms now distributing their news content for free needs a jolt of action and support this fall. Without it, without a way to challenge the way Google and Facebook divert digital news advertising dollars into their own coffers for stories others research and write, local journalism may disappear.

Yet since the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act was introduced in March by U.S. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, it’s been languishing in the House Judiciary Committee, attracting only one other sponsor — Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, a California Democrat. Ohioans need to let their representatives know that preserving their hometown news is important to them. This bill would help do that.

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It would lift antitrust restrictions for four years to let smaller news organizations that include 1,000 local and state newspapers and news websites collectively negotiate price and other terms with “dominant online platforms,” defined as having at least 1 billion active monthly users. Facebook and Google aren’t named but they are clearly targets of the legislation.

This wise and timely bill deserves broad support. If you agree, call or write your members of Congress now.