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To Save Independent Journalism, 'Ambitious' Proposal Urges Tax on Tech Giants That Helped Destroy News Industry

To Save Independent Journalism, 'Ambitious' Proposal Urges Tax on Tech Giants That Helped Destroy News Industry

Jessica Corbett, staff writer

To combat a media industry funding "crisis" that is killing off local, independent journalism, a new report released Tuesday by the advocacy group Free Press puts forth "an ambitious but achievable proposal"—calling on federal lawmakers to create a Public Interest Media Endowment that would be funded through a small tax on targeted online advertising sold by tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Twitter.

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I can’t say I will mourn the passing of FOX, NYT, WAPO, etc.:

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i appreciate the intent and the effort, but i disagree with the prescription.

To set up another funding agency, charged with sponsoring “public interest” journalism, is adding a contraption to a large piece of toxic machinery. We need to get rid of the large piece of toxic machinery.

There should be no colonization of our electronically mediated social interactions and networks.

There should be no profiteering data-mining by predatory corporations who sell our personal relational data to other corporate predators.

There should be no Facebook and Google as they presently operate, as colonizing predators who suck our personal data dry and sell it to other colonizing predators who use our personal data to manipulate our behavior and exploit our weaknesses and desires.

These corporations should be taken under public ownership and operated as public utilities with strict limitations against any form of sale, resale, or profiteering from our personal data, meta-data, and relational data.

Constructing an after-the-fact apparatus to minimally counteract the toxic predatory colonizing activities of these profiteering behemoths will only provide another location for corporate capture of this apparatus as has taken place with NPR and PBS. Similar to regulatory capture where industry targets and takes over the EPA, USDA, and other governmental bodies which supposedly regulate the corporate bad actors.

We need a complete paradigm shift. We need to abolish this profiteering, colonizing model of corporate operation and existence.

And time is way beyond short, as these ego-driven, profit-driven monsters and their capture of our institutions have led us to the brink of utter catastrophe, with economic, social and most importantly ecological breakdown now underway.

We need a completely different basic economic model than neoliberal corporate capitalism. Adding contraptions to neoliberal corporate capitalism will not suffice.


It would help to revive a strict interpretation of the 4th Amendment by everyone, including ourselves. I don’t care what Zuckers does in his home, spare time or what his personal papers contain. I do care that anyone data mines my info, and that includes all our gov’t.
" Extremism in defense of the 4th Amendment is no vice ". Probable cause is not a fishing expedition where the catch, or legal bycatch, is the provence of The ALPHABETS or private enterprise. Just sayin’.


Serious regulation is the only way to change this. They ain’t gonna do it on their own.


Taxing the lying warmongering/security state propaganda subcontractors is going to restore ‘journalism’. Really, it has been that simple all along?


Fine points. i left the government “intelligence” agencies out of my litany of data-mining malfeasors. It was an oversight that i thought about adding a reply to my own comment to clarify, but had not done so.

There are plainly no guarantees that an entire government, following a socialistic paradigm change, would not itself become the data-miner in chief for nefarious purposes. But i’m prepared to take my chances with a paradigm shift to democratic socialism, generated intentionally from the grassroots, seeking to be holistic in its approach, and not throwing any libertarian babies out with the capitalist bathwater (i.e. and e.g., the 4th Amendment baby).

(Is malfeasors even a word? A quick glance at the interwebs supports its existence.)

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Your comment is so much more succinct than mine!

“Cogito, ergo sum.” (“I think, therefore I am.”)
–Renè Descartes

“I critically think, therefore I don’t Facebook.”


Nobody can predict the future. Nobody is perfect. Nothing will last forever.

Change is constant. Digital electronics has made a lot of obsolete industries.

What will replace social media? Will it be audio-visual artificial-intelligence?

Its beginning to feel like the Matrix.

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The proposal leaves in place, as you stated, the hoovering up of our personal data with which corporations target us.for ads. While Google and Facebook et al sell our data to whomever will pay for it, they are quite happy to hand over your data to the government without a warrant.


Your comment was excellent.


does it make any difference to have an ad blocker on your search engine?

i’m uncertain what kinds of difference it makes. First, i wonder how AdBlock (which i have installed) generates money – presumably in some way from the data they mine from their subscribers through access to our desktops and online behaviors, when we invite them to block ads for us. i’m pretty certain AdBlock would not stop, for example, Google from still knowing everything you do if you use that search engine. But it would block the secondary users of your data from targeting you, so you would be free from their harassment and propaganda. This would undermine Google’s business model, so in that sense AdBlock is beneficial… depending on any nefarious activities they themselves may be involved in. Of course, using a different search engine that does not profiteer off your data (i’m using DuckDuckGo right now, used to use Ixquick) also undermines Google’s business model!

We are on a fast path to brain implants, thinking directly into the network… and the network thinking directly into you.

i think this will create a sort of super-creature, roughly analogous (on a vastly different scale) to plants and animals, which are made up of networked individual cells – which totally lost their individuality in the process.

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HI WiseOwl—me neither. NO facebook, NO how,No way. : )


And i think this makes it extremely important that we wrest control of the network from predatory corporate colonizers, before we all plug in.


William Randoph Hearst’s yellow journalism newspaper empire was the tyrant’s friend and the people’s foe. Neither did the New York Daily News of old care seven pennies about telling the truth or about serving its readers.

If we want to save actual independent journalism, creating some new market economy tool sounds like a silly way to do it.

That’s prolly what horse and buggy drivers wanted when trains and cars started replacing them. Put some good content out that people want to read and you won’t need handouts.

You are right. This is where the libertarian view of individual liberty–freedom of speech and un-corporatized journalism–is most important. And I rarely have anything good to say about libertarianism.