Stangl

Hello! I was able to take most of last week off to putter around the house and take care of some tasks that have gone undone for too long. The weather was great and I had a great time. I may even do it again.

I casually tuned into the news and saw the virtual testimony of the CEOs of Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon. It was entertaining to see bipartisan bashing of the folks who essentially have control of a large block of information and our economy.

I doubt anything will come of the testimony beyond some campaign sound bites. It’s too little, too late to make a difference, unless there’s enough political will to force the smashing of the companies into smaller ones.

Newspapers watch these congressional sideshows in hope something will be done about the aggregation of news content. Google and Facebook make collections of local news so that they can be displayed or linked to, been doing it for years.

While they don’t directly “steal” the news, they use short snippets and a link to the original story to provide a place where advertising can be displayed. The majority of digital advertising dollars in the nation are spent with Google and Facebook.

Newspapers are now seeking to get some help through the tax code to help fund news operations, the most vital aspect of our operations. The Local Journalism Sustainability Act (HR 7640) has been introduced into Congress.

Last month I saw an interview with Walter Hussman, Jr., publisher of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Hussman runs the following in every issue, outlining the newspaper’s mission. It’s extremely well stated and encapsulates, in my opinion, what all news outlets should do:

“‘To give the news impartially, without fear or favor.’ — Adolph Ochs, 1858-1935

“Impartiality means reporting, editing and delivering the news honestly, fairly, objectively, and without personal opinion or bias.

“Credibility is the greatest asset of any news medium, and impartiality is the greatest source of credibility.

“To provide the most complete report, a news organization must not just cover the news, but uncover it. It must follow the story wherever it leads, regardless of any preconceived ideas on what might be most newsworthy.

“The pursuit of truth is a noble goal of journalism. But the truth is not always apparent or known immediately. Journalists’ role is therefore not to determine what they believe at that time to be the truth and reveal only that to their readers, but rather to report as completely and impartially as possible all verifiable facts so that readers can, based on their own knowledge and experience, determine what they believe to be the truth.

“When a newspaper delivers both news and opinions, the impartiality and credibility of the news organization can be questioned. To minimize this as much as possible there needs to be a sharp and clear distinction between news and opinion, both to those providing and consuming the news.

“’A newspaper has five constituencies, including first its readers, then advertisers, then employees, then creditors, then shareholders. As long as the newspaper keeps those constituencies in that order, especially its readers first, all constituencies will be well served.’” Walter Hussman, 1906-1988

If you have a mind to, drop a line to your congressperson to share support for HR 7640. It’s a market driven solution to a very real problem.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.