NewsGuild warms to Journalism Competition and Preservation Act

NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss said the 26,000-person union’s priority has been to make sure a portion of revenue that outlets receive under the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act goes to newsroom jobs. (The NewsGuild)
NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss said the 26,000-person union’s priority has been to make sure a portion of revenue that outlets receive under the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act goes to newsroom jobs. (The NewsGuild)

A key constituent is coming around to support the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act in Congress.

The NewsGuild-CWA labor union is warming to the JCPA now that it may include more specificity about supporting newsroom jobs.

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Such changes were discussed this month ahead of a fleeting effort to include the JCPA in this year’s defense spending bill, an approach that almost worked last year.

Now it appears the loose agreement could help queue the JCPA up for action early next year, before Congress gets overly distracted by elections.

NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss told me the 26,000-person union’s priority has been to make sure a portion of revenue that outlets receive under JCPA goes to newsroom jobs.

“We’ve been really enthused by the conversations around making sure the JCPA helps support and grow more local journalism jobs across the United States,” he said Tuesday. “That’s looking better and better every day and making the NewsGuild more excited about the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act.”

A newsroom allocation is also supported by the News Media Alliance, a publishers’ trade group.

“We have a strong interest in seeing the funds from the JCPA used to replenish newsrooms,” CEO Danielle Coffey said via email. “This legislation would be transformative for the industry, which relies on professional journalists.”

The JCPA was introduced in 2021 by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. It would create a temporary antitrust exemption so news outlets could collectively bargain content payment deals with Google and Facebook. Klobuchar’s office declined to comment.

All along the JCPA has had bipartisan support.

“Local papers are the heart and soul of journalism, and they break the news that millions of Americans rely on every day,” co-sponsor John Kennedy, R-La, said when JCPA was reintroduced in 2022.

“However, tech giants like Facebook and Google are hammering local publications by keeping them from making a profit on Big Tech platforms — and it’s killing local journalism. This bill supports the little guy by allowing local news providers to better negotiate with tech companies for the earnings they deserve.”

A recent study estimated the two tech companies owe at least $12 billion yearly to publishers for the value news brings to their platforms.

Legislation and antitrust enforcement is needed because the market is distorted by platforms’ power, harming publishers and consumers, as documented by state and federal regulators and investigations.

Unchecked, platforms can refuse to negotiate, dictate terms and decide winners and losers.

Platforms acknowledge the value of news and voluntarily pay a few large publishers for content usage. By giving smaller outlets leverage to negotiate similar deals, the JCPA could help save thousands of newspaper jobs and prevent further closures.

Yet the NewsGuild withheld support until recently. That support may have been a bigger factor when Democrats held the House and Senate but it still lowers a potential hurdle for some members.

This follows decisions by NewsGuild units in California to endorse a state version of JCPA introduced in March. It specified that 70% of proceeds go to newsrooms, with language that could be mirrored in the federal measure.

Schleuss said the California support influenced the national group.

“It did,” he said, adding that California saw publishers and unions working together to advance the California Journalism Preservation Act.

The union wanted JCPA to dedicate money to journalism and provide transparency.

“Now that we’re starting to see that it makes it much more easy to support it,” he said.

Newspapers can’t wait much longer for support. Hundreds closed since the JCPA was introduced. This year more than 20,000 media jobs were lost and newspaper failures accelerated from two to 2.5 per week on average.

Publishers are urging Congress to pass JCPA and the Community News and Small Business Support Act, another bipartisan proposal, which would provide temporary tax credits to preserve newsroom jobs and for small businesses advertising locally.

“It’s definitely an extinction-level event, nothing’s changed about that, it’s pretty bleak,” Schleuss said. “Without some massive intervention to change the dynamic, with tax credits for local journalists or the JCPA, it’s looking worse and worse.”

Local news still trusted: Declining trust in news is a major issue for the industry and the country. But it’s not as dire as some polling suggests, and trust in local news remains high across party lines, Tom Rosenstiel and Mariana Meza Hernandez of the National Opinion Research Center wrote in an Op-Ed in The Washington Post.

“There is far more trust in journalism these days than people often contend,” they wrote.

While Gallup found just 34% of Americans have a “fair amount” of trust in news reports, results differ when pollsters ask the question differently. NORC, using a five-point scale instead of a four-pointer like Gallup, found “more than half of Americans — 55% — trust the press’s accuracy.”

A NORC spring survey found both conservatives and liberals gave positive ratings to local news, and 80% of liberals, 56% of conservatives and 64% of moderates said news stories reporting the facts of an issue are “extremely or very” helpful.

“There is even ample evidence that Americans still share a public square where they can find common facts — at least at the local level,” they wrote.


This is excerpted from the free, weekly Voices for a Free Press newsletter. Sign up to receive it at the Save the Free Press website,

Brier Dudley on Twitter: @BrierDudley is editor of The Seattle Times Save the Free Press Initiative. Its weekly newsletter: Reach him at


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