Indie publishers show solidarity in 24 hour news freeze

March 31, 2022

Over 30 independent publishers across the nation put a halt to news publishing on Tuesday 22 March, implementing a 24-hour freeze on news content to protest no pay for their content appearing on Facebook (Meta). The campaign has been named #WaitingOnZuck.

The news blackout was intended to gain worldwide attention, though aimed at Mark Zuckerberg, Meta Founder and CEO, who has not responded to the many attempts at contact by independent news publishers who wish to begin negotiations for payment when their news content appears on Facebook and other social media.

To support the future of independent news media, Broadsheet Media, The Australian Jewish News, Concrete Playground, Star Observer and City Hub, and many more joined forces to make their voices heard. Social media feeds were flooded with uniform red tiles that were listed online in place of news on Tuesday, with a clear message to Zuckerberg: “Sorry, no news today. We’re waiting on Zuck.”

Since the news media bargaining code was passed a year ago, Facebook and Google have directly negotiated million dollar deals with major publishers and news outlets like ABC, News Corp, Nine etc., but left the small to medium news publishers in the dark.

While the introduction of the code was a step in the right direction, there is a long way to go before all publishers can benefit from the use of their content on social media. The future of news by small and medium publishers is reliant on getting paid for their content.

Broadsheet founder and publisher, Nick Shelton said that the playing field needs to be even between all news publishers, no matter the size regarding the code:

“Facebook and Google can pick the winners and losers in Australian media, which is something the Australian public should be very worried about. The only way for independent media to survive is to designate the platforms.”

Publishers are now calling on designation of the digital platforms, as currently under the code there is still no obligation for Meta to make deals with them for news content. This would mean that commercial deals with each news business registered by the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA) would become a requirement.

The #WaitingOnZuck campaign is created by D.O.A., which stands for Decade of Action – a consultancy focused on social purpose, led by Ebony Gaylor.

Ebony Gaylor said, “We are strong believers in the role of journalism, and independent journalism, in protecting a healthy democracy.  Without the right funding structures independent journalism is under threat. We want Zuckerberg and anyone else profiting off the work journalists do to pay a reasonable price. That’s all.”

If you’d like to show your support, visit the campaign’s official website here for further information.

Tags: , , ,