Misguided efforts by Europe to save news

News is certainly in need of, and worth, saving — most “news” today is incredible, intentionally divisive, and either prurient or pernicious, and is often mendacious; and even the “good” news sources are running down the path of click-bate for headlines and poorly researched or corroborated stories. Part of this is human nature and what we desire, but a larger part of it is the nature of monetization. It’s been a long time in most of the world since news was actually valued in the sense that we’re willing to pay money for it; but, it’s definitely still valued in the sense that we will say that we want good (done well, not necessarily happy) news. So, Europe has tried to legislate their way out of the problem, by finding a way to get news paid. If you’re not one of my European readers, you may not know this, but the EU doesn’t write laws; instead, the EU writes policies, that each country is then responsible for turning into a law that makes sense in their local context. France is the first country to do that here — and what they’ve done is mandate that Google pay news providers, when someone clicks on a link to that provider which they found in Google. In other words, if I google “Corona virus”, and click on a link to a Le Monde page, France thinks Google should pay Le Monde. The French have always leaned hard towards communism, but this is a special kind of crazy that we should legislate that someone pay a business … for giving them more business.

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