Steven Weisman: Antitrust issues against Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple should be addressed this way

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee began what is expected to be 18 months of inquiry into antitrust concerns with the large tech companies Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple. The first day’s hearings focused on Google and Facebook getting most of the digital advertising market, with small local news organizations losing advertising, which President & CEO David Chavern of the News Media Alliance described as posing a “potentially existential threat to the news industry.”

Editor Kevin Riley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution testified that unless things change, many important local news stories would not be reported. According to committee member Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., “Concentration in the digital advertising market has pushed local journalism to the verge of extinction.” However, as Google’s Vice President of News Richard Gringas noted, “Every month, Google News and Google Search drive over 10 billion clicks to publishers’ websites, which drive subscriptions and significant ad revenue.”

Local newspapers and other local media have been slow to the dance and have not utilized online platforms as effectively as they might. There is a concern that the large tech companies such as Facebook and Google can control the news that people access and that lack of independent

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