For a long, journalism, whether it is television, print, radio, or digital journalism has been predominantly funded through advertising. For instance, if an individual is paying a particular amount for a newspaper it should not be the actual cost of the newspaper, advertising has been paying a majority of the portion.
However, contemporarily digital advertising is thriving which has in a way has made a duopoly (a situation in which two suppliers have dominance in the market for a product or service) of two companies namely; Google and Facebook (now Meta) that presents a challenge to the independent journalism to sustain.
Google carries an enormous influence on digital journalism as every news website desires to get its articles ranked on Google in order to get more traffic that enables Google to deliver more advertisements to the website and therefore the free news gets a chance to sustain through the Google Adsense revenue some portion of which is kept by Google as a commission.
The above-mentioned criteria to gain revenue in a way compromise with the independence of the journalists as the news is written with an objective to get ranked on the Google rather make the readers informed. Though that does not mean every news that ranks on Google lack quality content, it does mean the news has to be Search Engine Optimised so that it gets ranked and the attention of the news organisation gets shifted towards Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) rather quality content.
For Facebook on the other hand the news organisations are required to deliberate, how the post should be designed so that it receives more clicks and website visits and which is consistent with the Facebook requirements that include, the image, caption, and tags, among others. Again the attention has been diverted to get more clicks and website visits from delivering quality news.
It is without contention that Google provides a niche platform for the community to read, search and research. And Facebook has its niche in providing opportunities to users to communicate, share their opinions and experience discussions.
Despite that, the impact of both the big giants could not be ignored on independent journalism which gets affected due to their requirements. The reason being the presumed free news for which the readers are not required to pay, that has led to the duopoly of both.
In order to keep independent journalism alive readers, therefore, need to contribute monetarily to news organisations to sustain and to keep the citizenry aware, ahead and informed.