Sunday, June 24, 2012

Newspapers lobbying legislators - who knew?

I want to share with you two posts that I did for Ohio Watchdog:

Newspapers battle against special postal rates for Valassis

This is a story about how the newspaper industry is lobbying members of congress, including Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, to oppose a Negotiated Service Agreement (NSA) with Valassis, a direct mail company.

Valassis worked with the U.S. Postal Service to increase the number of pieces they mail in established markets and, in return, the USPS will give them discounted rates on the increased amount. The mail pieces are circulars - like for Sears, Target, Best Buy, Home Depot, etc.

They are the same ones you see in your Sunday papers, so obviously, the newspapers don't like the idea that a competitor might actually compete. So the newspaper industry is lobbying members of congress to oppose the NSA which is currently pending approval by the Postal Regulatory Commission which has the final say.

Brown agreed with the newspapers - surprise - and wrote a letter opposing the agreement.

The second post is an opinion piece:

It's time for the newspaper industry to come clean

The newspapers that are asking for favors from members of congress are the same newspapers that are supposed to objectively report on the actions of the very elected officials they're lobbying. They're the same entities that issue endorsements.

But they have a code of ethics that requires them to avoid conflicts of interest and to reveal them when they are unavoidable. Did you know the newspaper industry was involved in lobbying, and then editorializing about, the people they report on?

The newspaper industry has lost readers and respect, and income as those two items have resulted in less advertising revenue. Lobbying the people you write about - and not telling everyone that you're doing so - is another nail in their coffin that only serves to reinforce the bias and further undermine their credibility.

They should stop the lobbying, and refuse to endorse when the target they lobbied is a candidate.

And then, just for fun, read this opinion piece: "Don't kid yourself, daily newspapers cannot be replaced."

Be sure to read the comments - they're priceless!


Shishir Shah said...

The net has provided users with unlimited option. They can read and watch whatever they want, while newspapers give limited news and that too of their choice. That's the main reason of their decline.

Timothy W Higgins said...


Having worked both with Valassis and the newspaper industry in the past here is that Valassis is one of a couple of major companies that produce the 'coupon books' that you find in your Sunday paper.

A manufacturer's industry that's increasingly fed up with the poor market penetration of newspapers is forcing Valassis and other coupon producers to look for alternatives.

Such supplement revenue is the bulk of that received by newspapers, and a reasonable alternative presents itself, it will signal the end of the daily publication in this country.

Their pleas for protection are pitiful, but I suppose at least slight less so than if they were begging for subsidies (which probably comes next).

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