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Legislators advance measure requiring social media pay local newsrooms

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(The Center Square) – A measure some say could end the sharing of local news articles on social media sites is advancing at the Illinois Statehouse.

The Illinois Local Journalism Task Force was formed last year to investigate how to address a decline in the number of outlets and journalists covering local news. A report produced several recommendations.

One promoted by state Sen. Steve Stadelman, D-Rockford, would create a framework to have big tech companies compensate local outlets when someone shares their content.

“Creating a compensation structure based on the number of news journalists rather than clicks or content displays, this steers more funds to in-state publications,” Stadelman said during a Senate committee Wednesday.

Senate Bill 3591 was advanced by the Senate Executive Committee Wednesday. Opponents included TechNet, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. Proponents included the News Media Alliance and the Local Journalism Task Force.

Senate Minority Leader John Curran, R-Downers Grove, said his opinion is the measure will backfire.

“I would think the logical result of legislation like this would be Facebook simply turning off news links in Illinois,” he said.

Curran said such a move would mean fewer news stories getting out to Illinoisans.

“This is more likely to lead to less readership, less access, less traffic on the websites of these news publishers,” he said.

In Canada, where a similar law was approved last year, Meta began blocking news links rather than paying local news outlets.

Stadelman was skeptical that would be the outcome in Illinois.

“I find that hard to believe,” Stadelman said. “It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. The problem is the compensation does not flow back to the local newsrooms and publishers.”

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