Jeremy B. White at Politico CA Playbook:

 Lawmakers agree the news industry is in a dire situation, but they appear to be less certain how to help it. Sen. Steve Glazer convened a hearing today [3/13] that he described as an effort to diagnose and treat the crisis. “It’s one part health check, it’s one part autopsy, and it’s one part rescue mission,” he said. Senators heard about the potential and pitfalls of a digital ad revenue tax such as both Maryland and New Mexico have enacted. They pondered a tax credit to support local news jobs.


But neither of those ideas is in a bill before legislators at the moment, though Glazer’s spox told us to “stay tuned.” Wednesday’s discussion only glancingly mentioned a bill from Assemblymember Buffy Wicks that would force tech giants to pay publishers for the news content on their platform. Silicon Valley giants that have opposed Wicks’ bill, including with a campaign denouncing a “link tax,” did not accept invites to testify. “I think they bear some responsibility to repair” what they’ve broken, Glazer said. Sen. Tom Umberg, chair of the committee where Wicks’ bill is currently parked, showed up late but vowed to watch the tape.


A broken business model has bedeviled the industry for decades. As revenue plunged, precipitating mass layoffs and shuttered newsrooms, news executives have cast about for an antidote. They haven’t found the panacea yet. But the hearing demonstrated the growing appetite for government intervention. Glazer said he could think of few things more important than “shoring up that foundation” of democracy. Or as former journalist and Rebuild Local News founder Steven Waldman put it: “No one really is rushing to the idea that ‘Oh, let’s get the government to help,’” but “everyone has really come to the conclusion that the crisis is so severe” that it’s merited.