If Australia doesn’t get their act together, they may lose all news

The news business has always been tough. It’s been extra tough since the Internet came along. It’s shrinking in every possible way — relevance, number of reporters, income, readership; you name it, it’s hard to be in the news business. But as we look at the “news” on the Internet, it’s easy to see why, as a society, we would want to do something to preserve legitimate journalism. Back in April, I wrote about Europe’s misguided attempt to save news. If Europe’s attempt was misguided, Australia’s attempt is insane. Google and Facebook, combined, make a little under $2BAUD/year in Australia. The news industry is claiming that somewhere between 25–50% of that comes from them. Here’s an acronym I don’t throw around everyday: RAOTFLMAO!!! Come on, does anyone think the money flows in any direction other than _to_ the newspapers? If not for Google and Facebook, probably no one would ever read anything these days, which is how the newspapers get their ad dollars and their subscriptions. But, as far as I can tell, the Australian government is proposing some preposterous — and either undetermined, or determined by the news industry! — monetary transfer from Facebook and Google. Also, they’re proposing some preposterous other rules (they’d have to give 28 days notice for any ranking change — ha! If you’ve ever done anything with SEO, you know there’s zero chance of that happening. I’m almost never in favor of regulation. I am in favor of figuring out a way to save news. But this isn’t it, this is a joke. And Facebook has called them out, saying if Australia goes forward with this proposal, they’ll just drop all news in Australia. I expect Google would do something similar, and will likely soon announce something similar.

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