Another yoke on our neck

Stack of newspapers.

For all the talk about “supporting local journalism,” it appears New York state government isn’t all that interested in doing so.

It’s no secret that the journalism business — the only industry protected by the Constitution, as John F. Kennedy once said — is under siege by a barrage of financial complications that predate the pandemic itself. At this point, no company can afford additional burdens that stand in the way of producing quality, essential journalism to keep the public informed.

Yet the state legislature seems hellbent on throwing another yoke onto the neck of our oxen with the Extended Producer Liability Act.

The legislation has an aim that doesn’t sound so bad on paper: making product producers responsible for recycling their products after use. But if passed, it will have the unintended consequence of driving another nail into the local journalism coffin.

The bill mandates that any company that produces “product packaging, plastic wrappers and bottles and paper products” — such as brochures, flyers, catalogs, booklets, telephone directories and, you guessed it, newspapers and magazines — bears the financial burden of paying to have unused or undistributed materials to be recycled.

For full disclosure: Our company, Schneps Media, has more than 70 different newspapers and magazines circulated across New York City daily, weekly and monthly. You can imagine the kind of devastating impact this act would have should the legislature pass it, and should Governor Andrew Cuomo sign it into law.

It is utterly ridiculous that newspaper companies are not exempt from this law. To say nothing about the vital services we provide, the journalism industry already takes great pains to be eco-friendly.

As Michelle Rea, New York Press Association president, recently pointed out, newsprint accounts for less than 7% of all solid waste in a community. The printing industry has committed to using more recycled newsprint in its products, and the materials themselves — including non-toxic ink — are biodegradable.

Newspapers should be exempt from the Extended Producer Liability Act. The legislation further endangers an already stressed industry that needs more relief, not more restrictions, to deliver the news and essential information you need every day.

Long Island state Senator Todd Kaminsky is the main sponsor of the bill. Reach out to his office by calling 518-455-3401 and let him know that this bill is bad for New York journalism.

And please call your local state Assembly member or state Senator and tell them to give your local newspaper a break!