Editorial: JCPA can stop Big Tech from playing games with the news

For some people, everything they know about monopoly comes from the classic board game.

If you learned there what it’s like to own and control not just a company but an industry, you might have thought that monopolies are a good thing. Own every railroad or utility or hotel on Park Place and Boardwalk, and you’ll be in good shape when other players land on your lot and withdraw their money.

But the game also teaches exactly what the downside is. The other players – companies that don’t have the size and power – are being squeezed out. You win by edging out the competition and taking over their business.

The problem with Monopoly is that it only teaches what happens to the business owners. It says nothing about what is best for the customers or the community.

The law does. We have rules to prevent monopolies because competition is better for people. It gives them a choice. It encourages innovation. It also keeps companies honest about the quality of the product.

The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act will allow this for news publishers.

First introduced in 2019, the bill is about finding a way for news content creators — whether physical or digital — to negotiate as a group the terms under which an online business would use and distribute the producer’s work, and what the cost of that would be .

It comes after years in which massive platforms became major purveyors of news that they aggregate without creating or compensating for. Meanwhile, much of the country suffers from a terrible lack of local news as more and more small and independent newspapers wither and die.

In addition, while companies like Google and Facebook have proven to be efficient newsboys, they are bad editors. The bill could help curb this by putting news outlets responsible for reporting, writing and research in a more equal bargaining position. This is better for everyone who consumes the news.

The JCPA would not take anything away from Big Tech. It would only give newspapers and other content producers a chance to do business with the online giants in good faith.

Bipartisan members of the US Senate and the US House Judiciary Committees have tabled revised versions of the bill and plan to take up the issue in September.

They should do so and get the proposal before their full Chambers as soon as possible. It has to happen, not so that one side or the other can win the game and declare victory, but because of the vital importance of local news in people’s daily lives.

News should never be a monopoly, and without the JCPA it risks becoming one.