Sorry... No news today. We're waiting on Zuck
22 March 2022 at 9:37 am
Why we’re not publishing any news today.
Today, publishers across Australia – including Pro Bono News – are joining forces to shine a light on the obscene power imbalance between independent journalism and digital platforms in a news freeze. Many of us will not be publishing our usual stories covering Australian culture and communities.
Because we are all waiting on Mark Zuckerberg.
This is an important issue for Pro Bono News and something we wanted to share with you, our readers.
As independent publishers, we not only deliver important news and information, but in many ways form part of the backbone of communities by celebrating diversity, shining a light on local heroes, nurturing our unique interests and sharing the stories that help us to feel seen, heard and represented in Australia.
Almost one year ago the Australian federal government, Department of Treasury (courtesy of Josh Frydenberg) introduced the News Media Bargaining Code. This code aims to reduce the obscene power imbalance between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms, specifically Meta and Google.
It’s true that this world-leading code has been a significant step in the right direction… it even caused a bit of a global ruckus, ruffling the feathers of many big tech leaders. The issue is that the digital platforms have made a bunch of commercial-in-confidence (AKA “secret deals”) that have exacerbated the massive competitive disadvantage, significantly impacting the “little guys” of this vital industry – our small and medium news businesses.
Australians have taken this issue seriously. Showing their support for small and medium publishers in droves and enraged when Meta tried to yet again control the media landscape by disabling the sharing of any Australian news links.
But the Australian public can only take this David and Goliath battle so far and the launch of the code was only the tip of the iceberg for creating the change needed.
We know that Josh Frydenberg (treasurer of Australia) is prepared to go the extra mile – heck he even reached out for a chat directly with Mr Zuck, letting him know that we won’t be backing down, because the sustainability of independent news matters to Australians, all of us.
It has been a year since the code was launched and Meta has had more than enough time to demonstrate that they believe in paying for the quality independent journalism that their business model continues to benefit from enormously. Instead they’ve made a series of convenient deals. Deals that benefit big-tech and big-media, putting the future of small and medium publishers at risk.
Right now, small and medium publishers, along with their 4 million plus readers are #WaitingOnZuck to come to the table and make real deals. Agreements with small and medium publishers that are transparent, fair and actually pay for the journalism that his businesses are built upon.
Josh Frydenberg (and the Department of Treasury) is currently reviewing the impact of the code. Which means that Josh has an opportunity to ensure that the code holds Meta to account and helps to build a sustainable news industry that is independent, diverse and representative of all Australians.
Today news media businesses across Australia are joining forces through a collective news freeze – letting the world know that small and medium publishers are still #WaitingOnZuck to pay up for the journalism that he has been benefiting from for free.
Find out more at www.waitingonzuck.com
Join the #WaitingOnZuck news freeze:
Join the movement and be an ally by replacing your profile and socials updates with #WaitingOnZuck
Email Josh Frydenberg (Treasurer of Australia):
Email our very own Josh Frydenberg and let him (and the Department of Treasury) know that if digital platforms don’t come to the table to negotiate with small and medium publishers then they must be designated.
Get in touch with Zuck:
Tweet, DM or maybe meet Zuck in the Metaverse. To be honest, Zuck probably won’t reply. We know, because small and medium publishers have been trying to get a response all year.