(3/10) You are taking a lot out of the news industry – perhaps it’s time to put more than a little something back?

This is the third of ten themes in Nigel Cameron’s open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, exploring obstacles to him seeking the US presidency. Click here for whole series. 

We can’t blame you for the internet and every way in which it has devastated traditional journalism – though the fact that we have around half the number of professional journalists than a generation ago1 should keep all of us awake some nights. But if you want to be leader of the free world you need to be chief cheerleader for a free press – and you need to acknowledge how your huge and growing share of the online advertising market is killing more of the media outlets who actually do proper journalism.

More than 40% of Americans are reported to go to Facebook to get their news. Together with Google, you now control two thirds of online advertising2, and continue to squeeze traditional media who depend on selling ads to stay in business – and, of course, who do the reporting.

Three quick ideas for you:

Part 4: Make Facebook (the Company) look less like 1950s Mad Men

  1.  The Pew Research Center reports a precipitous fall in newsroom journalists from 55,000 to less than 40,000 in the nine years between 2003 and 2012.
  2.  Mathew Ingram for Fortune, 4 January, 2017, “How Google and Facebook Have Taken Over the Digital Ad Industry”: “Based on the International Advertising Bureau’s numbers and public financial numbers from Google and Facebook, the two digital giants accounted for about 99% of the $2.9 billion in advertising growth in the third quarter – with Google making up about 54% of the total and Facebook about 45%, leaving just 1% for everyone else.”
  3.  I emphasise “serious” because your “Journalism Project” doesn’t really count given the scale of the revenues you are winning from the industry.
  4.  Gizmodo on the 9th of May 2016 reported: “Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential ‘trending’ news section, according to a former journalist who worked on the project. This individual says that workers prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site’s users.”