Category Archives: Government

‘Muzzling newspapers’: Following yesterday’s post, State Sen. Squadron explains his position

As I noted in an update posted Tuesday night, NY State Sen. Daniel Squadron called to set the record straight regarding his position on the future of newspapers.

“Newspapers have played and will continue to play a vital role in the community,” Squadron said.

In a post earlier on Tuesday (linked here), I quoted Michelle K. Rea, executive director of the NY Press Association, as asserting that Squadron “is on a mission to eliminate print newspapers … [something that] is in line with the Mayor’s PlaNYC carbon emission reduction goals. Eliminating the printing, processing and delivery of newspapers will set an example for other municipalities.”

The elimination of newspapers “is not my position,” Squadron said.

Attaching a larger agenda to Sen. Squadron’s targeted bid to shut the print edition of the city-owned City Record may have been a reach. But it was a reasonable extrapolation from some of the goals of Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, city regulations and legislation enacted prior to Squadron’s entry to elected office last year.

The larger point of Tuesday’s post remains: Government and other controlling entities around the country are making it harder for newspapers to distribute their products, and this is one of a growing number of life-and-death threats to the print news business.

As publishers mobilize to fight this threat, they will need allies in government. Let’s can hope that Sen. Squadron will prove to be such an ally.

• • •

This afternoon, Sen. Squadron sent a letter to Ms. Rea in which he emphasized that his proposed legislation “would have no effect on notices which are now published in outlets other than the City Record.”

It “would neither create a precedent for other localities nor redefine what constitutes a ‘newspaper’,” he said.

• • •

Here is the text of Sen. Squadron’s letter to Ms. Rea.

Dear Ms. Rea:

Thank you for your letter. I wanted to correct inaccurate representations of my position, both in your email dated February 22, 2010 and as attributed to you on the Coney Media blog. Let me be clear: I believe that the newspaper industry has played and will continue to play a vital role in the community.

The purpose of Bill S.5952, which authorizes the electronic publication of the City Record, is to relieve the city and its taxpayers of the extraordinary costs created by the unique requirement on the City of New York to print the City Record. As we both agreed during our recent conversation, the City Record is not a traditional “newspaper.” It is not widely distributed to the general public—most of the 1,000 daily copies are distributed based on City Charter requirements. Expenses for printing, mailing, and delivery of the City Record, however, cost city taxpayers $1.2 million in 2008. And as you know, this bill would have no effect on notices which are now published in outlets other than the City Record. Finally, I believe this bill would neither create a precedent for other localities nor redefine what constitutes a “newspaper.”

Newspapers are absolutely essential to maintaining government accountability and transparency, which I have ardently fought for as State Senator. It is not, and never has been, my position that print newspapers should be eliminated.

After hearing the concerns raised by you and others, I am working collaboratively to find a way to correct the unnecessary costs of the current City Record without unintended consequences. As always, I am happy to further discuss this issue to try and address your concerns.

Sincerely,

Daniel Squadron