PUBLISHER’S DESK: ADVOCACY IN D.C.
Back in June I had the privilege of joining the Freeman High School Music Department on its every-four-years trip to Florida as both a chaperone and a community journalist eager to tell the story of the experience through a first-hand account. It was a seven-day journey that ended with a long, 26-hour bus ride from Orlando back to Freeman that was marked by a unique experience for me — the production of The Courier from the seat of a charter bus.
I remember telling my dad about the trip before we left, and he wondered how I was going to get the paper out since the journey back would overlap with the standard Monday-Tuesday production cycle.
“From the bus,” I said.
“I can’t wrap my head around that,” responded my dad, who had cut his teeth in the business in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when use of computers was just beginning to grip the industry, but long before the internet and access to broadband from anywhere was the standard. And, sure enough, the June 15, 2023 Courier was produced entirely from the front seat of a Reading Bus Lines charter out of Sioux Falls, just as though it had been done from our office at 308 S. Main in downtown Freeman.
That access and understanding of technology is what has allowed me to make a four-day trip to Washington, D.C. this week, where I am joining nearly 100 other journalists and state directors from across the country for a fly-in event hosted by News Media Alliance. Driving this effort is a series of meetings on Wednesday with the local Congressional delegation in support of the Journalism Competition & Preservation Act (JCPA) — legislation introduced by Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) that would permit community news media organizations to negotiate with Big Tech (Google and Facebook, specifically) for a fair revenue sharing structure.
Since Google and Facebook are getting rich thanks to internet searches and sourcing that point directly to traditional and established media organizations around the world, why shouldn’t those media organizations be entitled to some of that revenue?
Canada and Australia have already successfully done something like this, and France has done something similar. During a time when traditional newspapers and other trusted media sources are trying to re-establish their footing in wildly changing times that now include the reality of AI, the legislation before Congress is as critical as ever.
So that’s why I’m in D.C. finishing this week’s paper early Wednesday morning from a hotel within walking distance of the U.S. Capitol. Meetings are set with Rep. Dusty Johnson at 1 p.m., with Sen. John Thune at 3:30 p.m., and with Sen. Mike Rounds at 4:30 p.m., all EST.
Advocacy for community newspapers is front of mind, with long-term survival at the heart of the matter. After all, if we don’t stand up for ourselves, the world will never know what it has to lose.
Jeremy Waltner is editor and publisher of The Courier, husband to Stacey and Dad to Ella & Oliver, who will return in time for Freeman Academy’s final home soccer game of the season on Saturday.