To save the news, shatter ad-tech

Structural separation will help the news claim their fair share.

Cory Doctorow
5 min readMay 25, 2023


I’m coming to the HowTheLightGetsIn festival in HAY-ON-WYE with my novel Red Team Blues:

I’m at OXFORD’s Blackwell’s on May 29 at 7:30PM with Tim Harford.

Then it’s Nottingham, Manchester, London, Edinburgh, and Berlin!

Big Tech steals from news, but what it steals isn’t content. Talking about the news isn’t theft, and neither is linking to it, or excerpting it. But stealing money? That’s definitely theft.

Big Tech steals money from the news media. 51% of every ad-dollar is claimed by a tech intermediary, a middleman that squats on a chokepoint between advertisers and publishers. Two companies — Google and Meta — dominate this sector, and both of these companies are “full-stack” — which is cutesy techspeak for “vertical monopoly.”

Here’s what that means: when an advertiser wants to place an ad, it contracts with the “demand-side platform” (DSP) to seek out a chance to put an ad in front of a user based on nonconsensually gathered surveillance data about a potential customer.