E&P Editorial: Clarion-Ledger Violating First Amendment | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

E&P Editorial: Clarion-Ledger Violating First Amendment

Update, 8/21/06 The Jackson Free Press has learned that Clarion-Ledger Publisher John Newhouse is now himself talking to businesses that have rejected the TDN distribution scheme to control free distribution in Jackson. This big-gun approach comes as the Mississippi Independent Publishers Alliance has started the roll-out of our own nine-pocket boxes in businesses around the Jackson metro. The big difference? The MIPA box does not require an exclusive agreement and does not prevent the businesses from distributing other free publications of their choosing. Stay tuned for more details on the MIPA roll-out.

Meantime, read an editorial in the national newspaper trade magazine that tells The Clarion-Ledger to bring their scheme "to a halt" and stop trying to force free publications to pay them to be distributed ...

An op-ed in the July 2006 issue of Editor & Publisher magazine, the newspaper industry's national trade bible, called for the Gannett Corp. and their newspapers like The Clarion-Ledger to drop the efforts to give free publications a "Hobson's Choice" by telling us we have to pay them to continue distributing in hundreds of locations in the metro. They do that, of course, after a "non-daily" salesman "sweet-talks retailers into thinking all the free papers are going along with its offer to become the only rack in the store," as E&P so succinctly puts it. "The competitors are forced to go along, or lose access to the outlet."

Editor & Publisher says in no uncertain terms: "Corporate should bring it to a halt." E&P calls out what The Clarion-Ledger is doing in Jackson specifically as a slap at free papers' "First Amendment right to distribute papers without unreasonable interference," by "stirring up these faux crises about the ‘clutter' of free papers.'"

Meantime, though, the big, bad Clarion-Ledger is now gathering our racks and boxes and leaving them out in the rain in an open lot next to the Medgar Evers post office (where we found them ourselves). Go see for yourself. And here's how you can help stop what Editor & Publisher calls a "gang rack" scheme. (Get all details of this scheme on the JFP's GoliathBlog here)

More from E&P editorial:

Like newspapers everywhere, these Gannett papers are busy spinning off new >free niche papers - everything from auto and help-wanted books to their own versions of youth-oriented alternatives. ... These dailies are using their marketing muscle to sell retail outlets on the idea that they can clean up the ‘clutter' of all these free papers with some tidy gang racks. ... They then present competing free papers with a Hobson's choice: Hand over distribution of your paper to us, or get out of the store. [...]

Independent publishers, howeever, say they'd be more comfortable handing control of distribution over to a third party than to a competitor who can use his inside information to sell against the free paper. [...]

... Gannett says this gang rack scheme is not a companywide initiative. But the way it's spreading around the chain, it looks at the very least like a best-practices swap meet on steroids. Corporate should bring it to a halt."

Previous Comments

ID
170869
Comment

Gannett says this gang rack scheme is not a companywide initiative. But the way it's spreading around the chain, it looks at the very least like a best-practices swap meet on steroids. I find it interesting that Gannett would try to put all the blame on the locals when this junk is going on nationwide. Seems very cowardly to me. Reminds me of when I was a kid and I would hit one of my sisters and then run because I didn't want her to hit me back. How could I get away when we lived in the same house? Duh!

Author
L.W.
Date
2006-08-03T18:37:41-06:00
ID
170870
Comment

I agree. It is weird. It feels a bit like no one ever takes responsibility in that company for anything. How about: "We're sorry. We made a mistake."

Author
ladd
Date
2006-08-03T19:55:32-06:00
ID
170871
Comment

It's okay for Ganett to wail about forced racking, but fine for them to impose it on others. Typical corporate nonsense. (...and the HTML is borked)

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-08-04T13:30:46-06:00
ID
170872
Comment

Yeah, I *love* the subhead on the story: "With unseemly hypocrisy, the chain's dailies are bullying free papers into multi-tiered they control" I couldn't have said it better myself. Which HTML is borked?

Author
ladd
Date
2006-08-04T14:11:15-06:00
ID
170873
Comment

Oh, it was printing everything in italics when I posted my comment above, including comments, the red box, everything below the quote. It works now. Weird.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-08-04T15:03:40-06:00
ID
170874
Comment

I noticed after you mentioned it, and fixed it. ;-)

Author
ladd
Date
2006-08-04T15:19:15-06:00
ID
170875
Comment

is this happening anywhere else? just a Miss. thing? is this a test market...for you know what. sorry, can't say bad words. f-ing the alt press. get those JFP's out there, everywhere.! book some over here to Vicksburg, get them up to Greenville.. silly ledger, no one reads it, they are just scared. imho.

Author
sunshine
Date
2006-08-04T21:51:40-06:00
ID
170876
Comment

Read the E&P editorial. They're doing it in smallish markets where, I presume, they think that the people are too dumb to catch onto their scheme. They thought wrong. Watch for the big-ass RED boxes popping up around town. Courtesy of the Mississippi Independent Publishers Association—which does not require exclusivity to offer a service to local businesses. And wherever you see a MIPA box, please thank the business for supporting free enterprise and local businesses. I giggle to myself when I think that the "non-daily" distribution folks at The Clarion-Ledger told businesses throughout the city to be patient, that all nine of us free publications that formed the alliance "will all be on board by August." Guess what month it is and how many of us have bowed down to the Gannett Corp.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-08-05T16:58:14-06:00
ID
170877
Comment

I just wrote a long message but was not signed in. hate when that happens. what did I say.. will look for Red boxes, ledge is worthless,..get my news from youse. y'all are the best here, you and - Unita Blackwell. Oh dear. She was at 61 Coffee here in Vicksburg last night, and Joanne , co-author. Just a really fine fine time. Love all around. Is there a thread about her book? Sorry if I'm off topic. It happens. But, it's a free country. ha. Can we keep it? Free that is.

Author
sunshine
Date
2006-08-05T18:02:12-06:00
ID
170878
Comment

Guess what month it is and how many of us have bowed down to the Gannett Corp. --ladd Oh yeah! Like to see it and hear it... The locals fight back!!!

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-08-21T11:10:01-06:00
ID
170879
Comment

Locals rule! I'll reiterate: Be sure to thank the businesses for allowing our publications -- and in any spots where you see a green TDN box (boo, hiss), be sure to nicely ask them to allow local publications to distribute there as well. Many of them are responding directly to your requests. The market, it seems, really wants its locally owned publications, and people don't want to see a corporation bully the little guys. We so appreciate all of your hard work on behalf of local media. You're about to start seeing it pay off big. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-08-21T11:15:02-06:00
ID
170880
Comment

ladd, the state of this situation speaks to the good work that you do with the JFP. It also speaks to the readership and the passion that has been generated for this cause. Hang in there and something good can come out of something bad. The CL just upped your STOCK!

Author
justjess
Date
2006-08-21T11:22:07-06:00
ID
170881
Comment

Thanks, justjess. And remember that it isn't just the JFP; our entire alliance has been nothing short of amazing. Our response has been multi-level—from educating the public about what is happening to competing toe-to-toe to offer a product that doesn't require a competition-squelching exclusivity agreement by the businesses. I've said from the beginning that one of the worst parts of this thing has been the Ledger putting those businesses in these positions. Unbelievable to me. We'll anounce more specifics soon, but I'll give you a little snippet of really fun news: As a direct result of the TDN effort, and the amazing response from readers, the number of JFP distribution spots is increasing -- including into spots that we weren't already where TDN tried to lock us out. How 'bout them apples?

Author
ladd
Date
2006-08-21T11:35:32-06:00
ID
170882
Comment

Oh, and for the record, The Clarion-Ledger still has not told us which boxes/racks of ours they have picked up and where we can pick them up. (We happen to know that they are putting them in an empty lot near the Medgar Evers post office, uncovered and thus out in the rain, but they haven't communicated that to us in any way. Nice, huh?)

Author
ladd
Date
2006-08-21T11:37:23-06:00
ID
170883
Comment

you are rolling out your own 9 issue box? Hmmm.... who was the one on here who suggested that first? I'll take my free lifetime subscription to the JFP, thank you. ;-)

Author
Kingfish
Date
2006-08-21T11:42:20-06:00
ID
170884
Comment

yeah, "real" nice! but don't forget, it's their "independent arm" doing all that, right? what laughs. seriously, though, the success of your response deserves a huge HURRAH! i could easily have seen that scheme rolling over a less determined & less innovative team...

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-08-21T11:43:06-06:00
ID
170885
Comment

yeah, "real" nice! but don't forget, it's their "independent arm" doing all that, right? what laughs. seriously, though, the success of your response deserves a huge HURRAH! i could easily have seen that scheme rolling over a less determined & less innovative team...

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-08-21T11:43:07-06:00
ID
170886
Comment

Well, the remarkable part is that, somehow, The Clarion-Ledger seems to think that it's somehow more acceptable to do this if they are deciding to do it locally, rather than by directive from corporate. At least a corporate directive wouldn't feel quite as much like people who live here stabbing small businesses in the back. Of course, Newhouse hasn't been here long anyway. So maybe "local" isn't his primary concern. The coolest part is that our effort is becoming a model for cities across the country. All the national media coverage has been astounding, and other alternative papers are looking to what we've done here as a community for inspiration. Also, Kingfish, thanks for the great idea. You're not the only one who had it, but the support on the blog really helped drive us in this. It's been a lot of hard work, and has taken time away from other parts of our businesses, and cost us money, but hey, you do what you have to do when someone is trying to take away your distribution channels.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-08-21T11:48:15-06:00
ID
170887
Comment

just be glad you are not in radio. imagine that you had to get all of your news stories and columns from gannett.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2006-08-21T12:08:11-06:00
ID
170888
Comment

Meantime, though, the big, bad Clarion-Ledger is now gathering our racks and boxes and leaving them out in the rain in an open lot next to the Medgar Evers post office (where we found them ourselves). Go see for yourself. Are you talking about the lot next to the credit union (the old Magundi's) across the street from the post office? I meant to mention about those a while back, but never got around to it. I'm not sure, however, if any of them were JFP racks, though I can only assume some of them were.

Author
golden eagle '97
Date
2006-08-21T14:37:59-06:00
ID
170889
Comment

Yes, that sounds like the right lot. They've been putting the racks and boxes they pick up on a flat-bed pickup truck there. And they put their old free publication racks and boxes there, too, so I guess they don't care about their property getting wet. You'd think they'd ask us, though.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-08-21T14:45:55-06:00
ID
170890
Comment

My Grandmother, now deceased, would have translated "the big bad Clarion-Ledger is now gathering our rack and boxes and leaving them out in the rain......." to "Those mean old son-of-a b$%[email protected]#$ stole my racks and boxes." "Gathered" would be a term only used for nice folks doing nice things and we know that the CL does not fit that bill. ladd seems to always be politically correct and this is probably an attribute that contributes greatly to her success.

Author
justjess
Date
2006-08-22T12:32:33-06:00
ID
170891
Comment

Well, it depends on who is defining "correct." ;-) I prefer the thought that my posts are "dripping with sweet irony." I woulda liked your grandma. You can imagine that I'm not expressing what I'm really feeling about that corporate-Goliath about now. Here's an interesting development: In some of the spots where businesses have cancelled the exclusive TDN contract to allow other indy media, The Clarion-Ledger has gone in and *removed* their big-ass, neat boxes designed with sole purpose of helping the business clean up "clutter" (cough) -- and RETURNED their line-up of Gannett-owned boxes and racks, next to our new streamlined MIPA box. How 'bout them corporate apples!?! More news very shortly. Y'all are gonna love it.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-08-22T12:37:47-06:00
ID
170892
Comment

hmmmm....perhaps all of the businesses allowing distribution at their locales will disallow the Clarion from distributing their free publications...i'll have to get a list of their publications.

Author
daniel johnson
Date
2006-08-23T10:29:56-06:00
ID
170893
Comment

Well, we would never ask businesses to do that, but it is certainly their choice to do. People keep asking me which publications actually make up Gannett's arsenal of "free clutter." Here's a list: Weekend VIP Jackson 50 Plus Lifestyles House to Home Mississippi Kids Make & Model Celebrations (I don't know if they distribute it separately) Did I miss any? Interestingly, on their recent list of places that (supposedly) have signed onto their scheme, they list boxes as "full" that have mostly Gannett publications in them.

Author
ladd
Date
2006-08-24T11:30:31-06:00
ID
170894
Comment

this just gets better and better.

Author
Izzy
Date
2006-08-24T11:34:33-06:00
ID
170895
Comment

Settle in, Laurel. Let's see. On the one hand, you have a group of local business owners who have put everything they have into their businesses. They work nights and weekends and don't take vacations for years on end. On the other, you have a corporate monster media company from up north that thinks it can sweep in and make us pay them for the privilege of continuing our local distribution and alliances with other local businesses. We locals have got something going for us that the Gannett Corp. will never, ever understand. And, just to annoy the hell of them (hey, guys), I'm not going to tell them what it is. They can solve that riddle themselves. But you can count on this: Ain't no Deathstar gonna keep these rebels down. ;-)

Author
ladd
Date
2006-08-24T11:46:38-06:00

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