Mar 22, 2024 - News

Illinois bill wants Big Tech to pay for local news

Illustration of a newspaper vending machine with a padlock on it.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A bill is working its way through the state legislature that would make tech giants pay for local news.

The big picture: As more people get their news online instead of from traditional sources, declines in subscription and advertising revenue have led to staff cuts at news outlets and, in many cases, closings.

How it works: The Journalism Preservation Act would require companies like Meta and Google to track the number of times it presents or links to a news outlet's work each month and pay a fee to the journalism entity behind the content.

  • State Sen. Steve Stadelman, a former journalist from Rockford, introduced the bill in February.

Reality check: In other states and countries where similar legislation has been proposed, Meta has threatened to disengage altogether.

Catch up quick: Stadelman sits on a state committee tasked with evaluating news access across Illinois and presenting solutions for all communities to have local news.

  • The group recently released a report saying the state is in a "crisis," having lost one-third of its newspapers since 2005.

By the numbers: Illinois has 403 local news outlets, but 32% of those are in Cook County, according to Northwestern's Local New Initiative.

  • Four counties have zero local news sources.
  • The state has 25 ethnic media outlets and 12 public broadcasting stations.

What they're saying: Newsrooms "are essential to keeping citizens informed and government accountable to the people," Stadelman tells Axios.

What's next: The bill awaits a committee hearing.

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