Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Chicago bans home delivery of free papers

Free newspapers in Chicago have discovered that a new law intended to stop the indiscriminate door-to-door distribution of menus, brochures and other advertising flyers also bans many circulation practices for free newspapers. The website Inside and freepress.net report that Chicago's Aldermen, by a 50-0 vote, made it unlawful to distribute free “newspapers, periodicals and directories of any kind on any public way or other public place or on the premise of private property in the city in such a manner that it is reasonably foreseeable that such distribution will cause litter.”

That pretty much ends the distribution of free newspapers if a politician considers them to be "litter." Of course the law isn't being enforced evenly, so publications that the politicians like can continue to distribute.

The gimmick here is that the public was told that the law was designed to control litter. Who is against banning litter? Reminds us of news rack laws that are proposed to stop the proliferation of unsightly racks. Politicians will say anything to get the public to support their efforts to squelch a free press. The only question is whether publishers like those at the Tribune, Sun-Times or RedEye editorialize against this anti-free press effort or sit on their hands? Of course if they benefit from the silencing of smaller, independent competitors, they won't say a thing.

(At right is Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs. It's rumored that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wants to buy the team from the Tribune Co., owner of the Chicago Tribune and RedEye free daily.)