Note: The Next Balancing Act: Can the Law Save the Traditional News Media Without Eliminating News Aggregators?

Zachary Davidson 
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85 S. Cal. L. Rev. Postscript 88

Without a doubt, newspapers are facing hard times. By almost any metric, newspapers are less profitable than they used to be. What are more controversial are the tendered reasons for the precipitous decline. Most explanations invoke the Internet in one way or another. The intuition is understandable—newspapers are less profitable, but the public is seemingly no less informed. In fact, the opposite is arguably the case. People still seem to be getting their information from somewhere, just less often from an ink and paper publication. It is not unreasonable to suppose that the Internet has supplanted—or at least is well on its way toward supplanting—ink and paper publications as consumers’ preferred source of news content.

Judging by their popularity, news aggregators must be part of the appeal. News aggregation is a broad term that describes a number of related activities, but a general working definition is any online service that collects and presents aggregated third-party news content from traditional media and other websites. The number of aggregator services accumulating and distributing content on the Internet has grown along with the services’ popularity, which can range “from Google News to thousands of more modest offerings.” Additionally, traditional media organizations, in their struggle against declining profits, have focused a great deal of attention on the aggregation phenomenon, commonly portraying it as the root of the problem. [MORE]