Pamplin Media Group – OPINION: Misguided bill would hit local print media
Media editors warn that Senate Bill 582 would result in unnecessary costs for community newspapers and magazines.
Newspapers and magazines go to all corners of this state. Despite increased digital access, print publications are delivered to tens of thousands of homes without high-speed internet and homes where readers are simply more comfortable with the familiar print format or want to save travel magazines. , food, world events or recreation.
Oregon newspapers and magazines care deeply about environmental responsibility. Newsprint and magazine paper come from certified forests, are fully compostable and biodegradable within months.
Newsprint is so safe that it can be used as a vegetable garden mulch. The inks are linseed oil based and non-toxic, and the adhesives are water soluble.
A well-intentioned but misguided Oregon State Senate bill, Senate Bill 582, would create a broad extended producer responsibility (EPR) system for municipal solid waste. The bill recognizes that magazines and newspapers are different from other materials by allowing the payment of fees through advertising, but the fees simply should not apply to non-toxic and biodegradable materials – again, newspapers and magazines biodegrade in a matter of months.
News is vital to American civic life, and legislation causing financial hardship for newspapers and magazines will erode citizens’ access to factual and reliable news and information.
Newspapers are the only source of local information for many communities across the state. Coverage of town halls, pantry locations, classifieds and business news are the lifeblood of community newspapers.
Yet this legislation discriminates against news and information published in print, as opposed to information circulating in digital form.
EPR systems in other jurisdictions have failed to increase paper recycling rates, which are already much higher than other products.
In British Columbia, recycling rates tend to drop while producer fees have increased dramatically. This is not tenable in Oregon, as economic conditions linked to the pandemic have resulted in a significant reduction in advertising revenues for magazines and newspapers.
To offset sharp increases in costs, legislation could force publications to eliminate door-to-door delivery in rural areas, exacerbating the digital divide and cutting jobs in journalism.
A recent Broadbandnow study ranks Oregon 34th among states based on the deployment of broadband, speeds, and access to low-cost plans. Those without broadband rely on paper.
We urge the Oregon State Legislature to consider the impact of this legislation on magazines and newspapers. There are more appropriate ways of recovering post-consumer waste without putting vital state news and information sources at a disadvantage.
Brigitte Schmidt Gwyn is President and CEO of MPA – The Association of Magazine Media. Laurie Hieb is executive director of the Oregon News Publishers Association.
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