A few weeks ago, a firestorm erupted in US journalism circles as news came out that an influential intellectual was terminated by the New America foundation under pressure from Google - a major funder of the foundation.
It's just the latest story of how Big Tech is increasingly using its power and influence in concerning ways.
Josh Marshall, editor and founder of Talking Points Memo, writes a good summary of how intertwined Google now is with journalism, entitled "A Serf on Google's Farm":
But how Google affects and dominates the publishing industry is something I know very, very well because I’ve lived with it for more than a decade. To say I’ve “lived with it” makes it sound like a chronic disease or some huge burden. That would be a very incomplete, misleading picture. Google has directly or indirectly driven millions of dollars of revenue to TPM over more than a decade. Not only that, it’s provided services that are core parts of how we run TPM. So Google isn’t some kind of thralldom we’ve lived under. It’s ubiquitous. In many ways, it makes what we do possible.
It's interesting to read how much TPM relies on Google services for its operation, and there are one of the less dependent media outlets.
I'm not even small, I'm miniscule. I do use Google Fonts on ThePublicRecord.ca (something I keep promising myself I'll fixed if I can find five minutes). I don't use Google Analytics, or any other service.
If the role of journalism is to ensure the powerful are just not abusing their power, but are not allowed to be capable of abusing power, journalism must be independent of power.
We need to self-host our websites and tools, or at least - as is my case - be hosted independent of the large technology players.