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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

News companies that have been lobbying for legislation that makes it easier to negotiate with companies like Google and Facebook will testify before Congress on Tuesday, in the first of several hearings probing the power of Big Tech.

Why it matters: The advertising-supported business model that underpinned journalism for decades has collapsed, leading to the closure of hundreds of newspapers across America.

How it works: Newspapers worry that outdated government rules about consolidation and collective action prevents them being able to join forces to compete for their share of digital advertising dollars.

  • So they're asking Congress for a four-year antitrust safe harbor that would allow them to work together to negotiate better deals with major internet platforms.

The details: The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, the subject of Tuesday's hearing, is spearheaded by the News Media Alliance, a trade group that represents thousands of newspapers including The New York Times and The Washington Post.

  • Despite multiple drafts and proposals over the past two years, the bill never advanced.
  • In March, the bill was re-introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), the main antitrust watchdog in the House.
  • The bill now has has a Republican co-sponsor, Rep. Collins, Doug (R- GA), which supporters hope will help persuade Republicans to rally behind the measure.
  • The bill was also introduced by a pair of bipartisan members in the Senate in June.

The Alliance is hoping to appeal to lawmakers whose local newspapers are dying in the wake of an economic market collapse for print media.

  • "The major tech platforms act as our regulators," News Media Alliance CEO David Chavern tells Axios. "They stand between news publishers and most of our readers, and determine everything about the relationship.  We need the ability to organize ourselves and fight for a sustainable future for quality journalism.”

Skeptics argue that, even with collective bargaining power, newspapers won't be able to rebuild their businesses.

Yes, but: Congress doesn't typically intervene in private negotiations around content distribution.

  • TV distributors and cable operators have for years unsuccessfully lobbied Congress to to intervene over rising "retransmission rates," or the rates they have to pay TV networks to carry their content.

The big picture: The battle between news companies and tech companies is increasingly bitter.

  • For example, Google is pushing back on the News Media Alliance's latest piece of research about how much money Google makes off of news companies.
  • “These back-of-the-envelope calculations are inaccurate as a number of experts are pointing out," a Google spokesperson said.

Be smart: Around the world, regulators and advocacy groups are looking to create a healthier news environment by targeting tech companies with new rules.

  • Most notably, earlier this year European Union member states approved a controversial Copyright Directive that would force Google to pay a tax for linking out to news articles. Google has suggested that the measure could force it to shut down its Google News operation in Europe.

Our thought bubble: Even if the bill does pass, don't expect newspapers to recover overnight. Forecasts project that social media and video platforms will continue to take the majority of ad growth away from publishers for the foreseeable future.

Go deeper

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Trump dogs “dull” DeSantis ahead of potential 2024 matchup

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Donald Trump is trashing Ron DeSantis in private as an ingrate with a "dull personality" and no realistic chance of beating him in a potential 2024 showdown, according to sources who've recently talked to the former president about the Florida governor.

Why it matters: The two are among the most popular Republicans in the country, and as the former president eyes another run in 2024, he's irked by DeSantis' popularity and refusal to rule out running against him.

Updated 34 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy.
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: America struggles to keep schools open — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker
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British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.