If governments were so intent on getting tech platforms to support quality journalism, they should be approaching the matter in an entirely different way.
First of all they should put a revenue tax on advertising at the source of the income, ie a VAT kind of tax albeit small they place on advertisers, when they run ads on big tech platforms.
Second, they should use some of the proceeds from that tax to support – and here is the kicker – fact checking, NOT journalism.
Why not journalism?
Because media has a tendency to elevate every piece of content into groundbreaking journalism, when it’s clearly not. Let’s just here mention celebrity gossip, ‘he said, she said’ arguments between politicians – funnily enough – often taken directly from said politicians Facebook page (without media paying the THAT privilege of course) and loads of other forms of content.
Why fact checking?
Of course because it speaks to the core of the problem on both sides:
Facebook in particular has a big issue with misinformation and fake news, and there’s no apparent reason to think they are any good at monitoring and/or regulating it. And media has a huge cost associated with quality reporting and fact checking.
So by taxing advertising at the source and rerouting some of the proceeds towards supporting fact checking, politicians would effectively be able to solve two big issues in one fell blow without breaking the core fundamentals of the internet:
They would be able to get tech giants to pay more taxes locally (as they should), and they would find a way to support quality fact checking/journalism, which is needed more than ever (especially in the absence of media themselves being able to figure out a viable business model going forward).
Do I think politicians will get inspired by the above?
Absolutely not. They are probably too busy getting their ears screamed full by lobbyists for media companies with little interest in doing this right. As long as they just get paid.
NB: I have no idea about how the practicalities of this would work, but I am sure there are more than enough brainy people out there to figure out the details.