Why Is New York State Trying To Kill Print Newspapers?

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Do you enjoy reading this newspaper? Do you enjoy reading anything in print as opposed to reading a screen on an electronic device?

If the answer to either of these questions is “yes” the State of New York is brewing a budget that will certainly disappoint you. And the clock is working against you to prevent this.

As you can read from the Letter to the Editor below from Michelle Rea, Executive Director of the New York Press Association, the Extended Producer Responsibility Act may soon make it financially impossible for newspapers – and especially small newspapers like the Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel – to maintain a sustainable business.

That’s too bad. We recently asked our readers “In your own words (not to exceed 25), why do you think it’s important for a community to have a regularly published print newspaper?” Here are the top ten reasons readers relayed to us:

  1. Because it helps maintain the vibrancy of the community!
  2. Good source of information on people, businesses, and projects around town.
  3. Great to get HFL sports & activities updates in addition to general happenings in the area!
  4. It caters to local news. It’s relevant to us. It’s personal.
  5. It has the ability to represent what is best about our community.
  6. It is the only place to find local news and events.
  7. It’s important to get local news so you’re informed about what is happening in your community.
  8. Keep local people informed of local news.
  9. Our community, our families, our news.
  10. Not everyone does FaceBook.

Apparently, the 8 Senate Democrats on the Environmental Conservation Committee who voted to approve Senate Bill S1185B don’t share these same beliefs as our readers. To be fair, those 8 committee members represent primarily New York City, Albany, and Syracuse. The 3 Republicans who voted against it hale from the northern (Thousand Islands/Adirondack) and eastern (Long Island) extremities of the State.

Much like the ill-advised plastic bag ban last year, the law is a broad punitive solution to a narrow-isolated problem. Rather than targeting the wrong-doers, the State is taking the easy way out and painting everyone with the same brush.

This sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Like forcing New York City/Albany solutions on Greater Western New York.

As Michelle Rea wrote to us in her email accompanying her letter (which was sent to all newspapers in New York State), “This legislation will be devastating to newspapers – expensive to comply with, and onerous in terms of registering, surveying, reporting, and promoting. In addition, I do not know how the Department of Environmental Conservation will have the budget and staff to provide meaningful oversight of an initiative this broad. Further, I do not know what the end game will be – there is little in the way of incentives to increase or improve recycling – this bill just shifts the costs and responsibilities. A critical assessment of Zero Waste Canada reports that while the assessors are respectful of the government’s intentions, the EPR there has achieved little or no environmental benefits.”

She says in her letter “newsprint accounts for less than 7% of solid waste in a typical community.” What she doesn’t say is, like those useful plastic grocery bags, old newspapers are critical components towards solving real household problems.

For example, what would you line your birdcage with? How would you provide some “kindling” to start a fire? What about your kids’ paper mâché project? Would they become just “mâché” projects?

Also, did you ever buy a used car that was previously owned by a smoker? Imagine the smell! Well, I did once, and do you know how I got rid of that smell? I crumpled up old newspapers and left them in a car for a week. Viola! Smell gone!

The Extended Producer Responsibility Act is just another unfunded mandate from Albany coming at the behest of the New York City crowd. Only this time, unlike forcing our local governments (and ultimately you) to foot the bill, they’re sticking it to producers of packaging and paper products. All of them. Not just the ones most responsible for producing waste.

The fact is, like so many other things, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. And when you try to artificially impose this on people, you penalize them – even though they have done absolutely nothing wrong!

Is that fair?

Is it fair that our community would lose its newspaper because politicians far from here want to look good to their voters?

So, what can you do about it?

That depends on who you are. If you’re a Republican (either by registration or by persuasion), you’re out of luck. New York State is a single party state. The best you can do is become friends with a Democrat, hopefully one with pull.

On the other hand, if you’re a Democrat, and you truly believe you can make a difference, now is the time when you can earn your badge of honor.

Contact our state senator Samra G. Brouk (she recently replaced the retiring Rich Funke). She’s a Democrat, and if she’s worth the vote you gave her, she’ll listen to you. (By the way, this ought to be the rule for any elected official, not just her).

You can reach her either through her Albany office (188 State Street, Legislative Office Building, Room 817, Albany, NY 12247, 518-455-2215) or her Fairport office (Packetts Landing Suite 230, Fairport, NY 14450, 585-223-1800) or via email (brouk@nysenate.gov).

Ask her to read Michelle Rea’s letter below. Ask her to read the above list our readers gave us.

If you can’t convince her to convince her fellow Democrats to rewrite Senate Bill S1185B (and it’s never too late to rewrite bills that the governor hasn’t signed yet), then you’ve got to ask yourself one question:

Does this represent a shortcoming on your part or a shortcoming on her part?

Let us know what happens in a letter to the editor.

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