Social media versus journalism and democracy

Mosco, Vincent

Among the many problems facing contemporary journalism, one stands out most in my mind: social media firms, especially Google and Facebook, have decimated the business model that provided journalism with most of its revenue. For many years, journalism thrived by delivering readers to advertisers who paid for their attention, on the expecta- tion that this would translate into purchases of their goods and services. Today, Google controls about 40 percent of the digital advertising market in the United States and 44 percent worldwide, whereas Facebook takes in about 20 percent of the US market and 18 percent worldwide (eMarketer, 2017; Marketing Charts, 2017). These figures have been relatively steady for the past 4 years, meaning that two firms comfortably operate a duopoly over the most lucrative ad markets in the world. Meanwhile, newspapers con- tinue to experience declines in their share of both print and online advertising, leading to cutbacks in support for journalism and outright closures of newspapers.