I came to The Nation as an intern at the start of the Reagan years, and edited the magazine from 1995 to 2019. I am deeply committed to my role as steward of this remarkable institution, and I am determined to bring it into the 21st century. But that task has proven increasingly challenging.
Not that being at the helm of The Nation has been without exciting opportunities. Digital publishing and social media have given us the chance to reach vastly larger audiences at home and globally. We’ve embraced enormous changes: from the computer to the in-box to the cell phone to the social media feed. We’ve grown with savvy—and humility—as we’ve found new ways of expanding our voice.
But the playing field is not level. Like other publications, we have seen advertising dollars dwindle and watched the social media and tech giants wield enormous power over our content, traffic, and revenue. In these turbulent times, The Nation has never wavered in its commitment to producing the highest quality journalism—journalism that informs our readers and shapes a more equitable, just, and radical future.
We will not cede that future to anyone—especially predatory digital behemoths.
That’s why we’re suing Google.
The Nation relies on a business model that depends not only on advertising dollars but on the generosity of our subscribers and donors. That community model has expanded to include a travel program, the Nation Shop, and our popular events series, Conversations With The Nation. We invest all proceeds into our journalism. We run a lean operation; every dollar counts. But we still depend on advertising, and Google has stifled competition and siphoned off precious revenue.
Some more context: Publishers sell remnant advertising space on their websites through real-time auctions in what is called the display advertising marketplace. Small- and medium-size outfits will use intermediary agents to match with advertisers through an auctionlike process. But for some time, Google’s Ad Server has been excluding bids submitted through rival networks in order to prioritize business from its own Ad Network.
Last December, we joined The Progressive and Genius Media Group, Inc., to file an antitrust lawsuit that challenges this monopolistic behavior.
Through its anticompetitive conduct, Google has erected a toll bridge between publishers and advertisers, and it charges an unlawfully high price for passage. If Google’s drive to control the markets related to display advertising is left unchecked, it will have the power to decide which publishers live and which die.
This is no ordinary lawsuit—it is about the future of independent media. It is about valuing the producers, publishers, and creators in our country. It is about recognizing that the only way to ensure the future of journalism is to fight for it.
Principled. Progressive. Passionate. It’s what we stand for. We would not be here were it not for the fierce loyalty of our readers, and we’re grateful to be in this struggle with you.