Lawless Newsracks


I'm a couple weeks late in noting it, but Cynthia Cotts has an interesting article in the Village Voice about New York regulators' war on newsracks. A sample:

What the publishers did not think they were getting was a zero-tolerance policy that makes it all but impossible for them to distribute their products. Reps testified that unforeseen forces can put them out of compliance at any moment, including bad weather, store owners who push boxes away, and bigots who routinely trash gay and ethnic boxes.

While large companies resent the time and money spent on a Kafkaesque appeals process, the burden is even greater for smaller businesses. According to New York Press publisher Charles Coletti, who has received fines of almost $100,000, the cost of compliance includes paying employees to inspect the boxes, paying a cleaning contractor, and paying an attorney to handle appeals. For Manhattan Media, which publishes Our Town and West Side Spirit, fines of $30,000 could mean losing a reporter. For ethnic communities, the law threatens to put their only editorial voices out of business.