Scientific and academic publishing is broken. The vast majority of the journals have been privatized by publishers who charge astronomical fees for access to the literature.
The fees have gotten so high that even well funded universities have started to walk away from negotiations. Universities with less funding have long been unable to afford them. The average citizen has no hope of affording them.
With the results of the scientific process locked away behind paywalls, science is no longer an open and transparent process. Worse, the ultimate deciders of policy in a democracy, average citizens, are being denied access to the primary source materials necessary to make good policy decisions.
The Open Access movement has been trying to solve this problem, but it has mostly stuck to the existing model of hiring editors to manually match reviewers to papers, creating high overhead. To fund their operations, most Open Access journals have flipped the business model from fee for access to fee for publish. This has created a whole host of new problems, including the rise of predatory journals that are willing to publish almost anything by anyone who can pay.
The ultimate effect of pay-to-play is that the traditional peer review and refereeing process has broken down. If a dishonest researcher gets rejected from a reputable journal, they can take their paper to a pay-to-play journal and have it published there. With over 10,000 academic journals, it’s impossible for the lay public to track which journals are reputable and which are not. As far as the public is concerned, a published paper is a valid paper.