George Skelton at LAT:

Advertising money to pay reporters’ salaries has been hemorrhaging for years. Roughly two-thirds of California journalists have lost their jobs in the last two decades. More than 100 Times newsroom staffers were laid off in January. To their credit, some legislators are attempting to stand up to the powerful platforms and toss a lifeline to media outlets. Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) is pushing a bill, AB 886, similar to laws enacted in Australia and Canada. It would require large platforms to pay news outlets for their products. Fees would be set by arbitration. News outfits would be required to spend at least 70% of the money on reporters. The bill passed the Assembly last year but hasn’t moved in the Senate.


Key lawmakers have agreed to pass something this summer, but haven’t decided what. They’re trying to weave together legislation that would attain a difficult two-thirds legislative vote, be acceptable to the big platforms and gain Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature. The governor has been mum. The quartet are Wicks, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Tom Umberg (D-Orange), new Senate Majority Leader Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) and Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), the author of a second journalism rescue bill. “We’ve experienced the hollowing out of newsrooms in epic proportions and that has significantly eroded oversight of government,” says Glazer, a former political press secretary.


I asked the veteran pol whether he’d noticed a decline in state Capitol coverage. “Absolutely,” he replied. “There are great reporters. But the volume of actions taking place in the Capitol that get no scrutiny is extraordinary.” In the last two decades, the size of the Capitol press corps has shrunk — and at the Times bureau — by two-thirds. Glazer’s bill, SB 1327, would impose a “data extraction mitigation fee” — a sales tax — on platforms that reap more than $2.5 billion annually from advertising to Californians. It would snag Google, Amazon and Meta and generate $1 billion annually.