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Earlier this year, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Romer spoke about the benefits of taxing platforms like Facebook and Google to help suppress Big Tech’s dominance and spur competition.

Romer said that you can get there by levying a “pigovian tax” on digital ads. In general terms, a pigovian tax is one that’s levied against any market activity that generates “negative externalities” — or bad consequences across society.

In Romer’s interpretation, such a tax could be progressive when applied to the revenues of online platforms; the marginal tax rate would increase relative to a given firm’s market dominance. Companies that are…

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Making a comeback. Hoboken, 2021. (photo: Timothy Karr)

Oysters!

I spotted these clusters during a walk with my teen-age daughter near Hoboken’s Sinatra Park. They were exposed by a recent low tide. I confirmed them as genuine items after scrambling over a barricade and down to the waterline for close inspection. Eleanor, who’s frequently embarrassed by her father’s enthusiasms, coaxed me back to the path for fear a passing friend might take notice. But not before I took a few photos of these little and, for a century, rare local beauties.

Oysters are woven into the history of New York Harbor. When Henry Hudson sailed into the estuary…

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This week, Australia will put the finishing touches on a plan to force Google and Facebook to pay millions of dollars to local news publishers in exchange for featuring their content on their powerful platforms.

Many in the news industry are hailing Australia’s bargaining code as a way to bring Big Tech to the table and save journalism at a time when news outlets are struggling.

And to the table Big Tech has come, but its response hasn’t been helpful.

Last Wednesday, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. announced that it had struck a three-year deal with Google that would provide access…

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The Puget Sound is an unsettled sea that lies above the tectonically active western edge of North America. This large body of water is separated from the Pacific Ocean by the Olympic Mountains to its west and the Cascades to its east.

Glaciers occupied the Sound during the last ice age, advancing from the north. When they retreated some 13,000 years ago they left behind large deposits of interglacial sediment. …

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One of the most consequential — and for some confusing — pieces of internet legislation of the past 25 years has been the subject of white-hot political debates in Washington this election year.

And no one seems more confused by Section 230 than Donald Trump, who in May signed an executive order to undermine this seminal law and force social-media sites to amplify his lies and propaganda with little fact checking or contextualizing.

Trump’s move was well timed… for him at least. …

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“Yes, but …”

That’s the opening refrain of many media pundits when asked to comment on the phenomenal success of the #StopHateForProfit boycott, which now counts more than 750 companies pausing their Facebook advertising in July to protest the spread of racism on the platform.

Yes, but the monthly advertising budget of these companies is only a sliver of the ad revenues Facebook takes in each year.

Yes, but Facebook’s stock price, which dropped some eight percent at the outset of the campaign, will rebound soon.

Yes, but this is only a temporary public-relations stunt; these companies will return to…

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Earlier this spring, Amy Brothers was busy at The Denver Post covering the most significant news event of her career: the fallout across Colorado from the rapid spread of COVID-19.

But on April 17, without warning, the Post let the video journalist go along with 12 other newsroom colleagues. They were causalities of the plummeting ad spending that has struck local-news operations across the country.

“I really loved my job,” Brothers tweeted. “Going out into our community and telling your stories, on your best days and your hardest always inspired me.”

Brothers later told me that her workload had increased…

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Donald Trump’s latest assault on the media’s free-speech rights comes in the form of a defamation lawsuit against a Wisconsin television station that ran liberal political ads that the president’s campaign didn’t like.

A Trump campaign spokesperson said they had “no other option than to use the force of law” to stop WJFW Channel-12 from airing the ads.

But don’t hold your breath if you’re waiting for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Brendan Carr to intervene on behalf of this local broadcaster’s rights.

It wouldn’t be the first time these Trump appointees have ducked their duty to defend the…

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Official White House Photo: Joyce Boghosian

As COVID-19 spreads from city to city, neighborhood to neighborhood and house to house, disinformation is being spread over the public airwaves by syndicated right-wing personalities and the media conglomerates that air their programs.

In many cases, radio and TV hosts like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh are simply following President Trump’s lead as he convenes daily press briefings to boast about his supposed expertise, attack those he sees as political foes, demean the press corps, blame the disease’s spread on immigrants and foreigners, and make false claims about the federal response to the global pandemic.

In other…

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Bob at home on Bainbridge Island

Robert Payne Karr, 83, passed away peacefully on March 16 at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma. Robert, or Bob as he was known to everyone, was born in Seattle on March 6, 1937. His parents, Day Payne and Susan Fitch Karr, raised Bob alongside sisters Susan and Cindy and brother Bill in homes in the city’s hilly Madrona and Mount Baker neighborhoods.

Bob attended nearby Franklin High School. His academic record has been lost to the ages. He’s better known by his many friends for his service on the sidelines as a cheerleader for the Franklin Quakers, and for…

TimKarr

All things media, online & off, but mostly on. Timothy Karr advocates for universal access to open networks at Free Press and Free Press Action Fund.

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