First Amendment Under Surprise Attack


Republicans and Democrats in Congress seem to agree on almost nothing these days.

That’s why it’s startling to see bipartisan support for something you might think would be unpopular to politicians: the very local newspapers who hold elected officials accountable.

But it’s happening. And, given the gloomy state of the newspaper industry, it’s a rare break in the clouds.

“It does seem like we’re getting somewhere,” said David Chavern, president and CEO of the News Media Alliance, which represents 2,000 news publishers – mostly local newspapers, but also some national papers (including The Washington Post) and digital-only news sites.

The legislation in the House and Senate would provide a temporary “safe harbor” – a four-year antitrust exemption for news publishers as they negotiate with Google and Facebook over how news content is used and how advertising dollars are distributed.