Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says tech giants like Facebook are the biggest threat to news organizations

source
Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • In the aftermath of layoffs at BuzzFeed and HuffPost, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Saturday that the power tech companies hold is “societally and economically unsustainable.”
  • Ocasio-Cortez has been known to be outspoken on social media about issues facing American workers and critical of big money industry players.
  • Advertisers, typically the main source of money for news organizations, have been pulling away from traditional publications for platforms like Facebook and Google with larger audiences.

After layoffs hit news organizations like BuzzFeed and HuffPost, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter on Saturday to say the “monopoly” tech giants have on the industry “is societally [and] economically unsustainable.”

“Healthy democracy requires high-quality journalism,” she wrote on Twitter. “[Without] a wide range of independent outlets [and] the revenue to sustain them, our democracy will continue to crumble.”

Ocasio-Cortez later replied to journalists from publications across the country, saying there are many “incredible outlets worth our support.”

“We can’t simply accept the cliche that ‘journalism is dying,'” she wrote.

Read more: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez quotes the Bible after Sarah Huckabee Sanders says she should leave climate change up to God

Ocasio-Cortez’s comments came after hundreds of layoffs in newsrooms across the country. HuffPost started laying off employees on Thursday, with the cuts expected to affect about 750 employees. BuzzFeed began laying off employees on Friday, and the layoffs are expected to affect 15% of BuzzFeed’s total staff of 1,450, or about 218 employees. Gannett also announced layoffs last week.

For most news organizations, the average business model depends on the influx of advertisers, many of which have been leaving traditional publications for larger platforms with bigger audiences like Facebook and Google.

But beyond advertising dollars, tech giants also serve as a gateway to disseminating information. For instance, Facebook’s algorithms are responsible for showing news articles to its nearly one billion monthly active users, and just a single tweak to it can be incredibly harmful for newsrooms dependent on article and video views, according to Columbia Journalism Review.

On Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal in an attempt to ease investors and shareholders. The column defended his company’s ad-supported, data-hungry business model, and explained how Facebook believes it helps small businesses.

A Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider on Monday that the company has no comment on Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks.

For his part, President Donald Trump gloated over the recent layoffs in the media industry, tweeting, “Fake News and bad journalism have caused a big downturn. Sadly, many others will follow.”