Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tennessean Tips Hand and I Win Bet

Fat lot of good asking the Tennessean again to stop delivering the Wednesday "free" edition of the newspaper to my address did last week. The sidewalk in front of my house was littered once more today with the Gannett Corporation product in spite of several attempts in the past year to stop the nonsense.

For the second time in a week I returned the litter to the paper's Broadway headquarters, and the receptionist asked for my address yet again. In response to my reiteration that my street has Tennessean litter all over it this morning, she retorted that "free speech" allows the newspaper such delivery. My response: "McDonald's would not be allowed to toss free Big Macs on a lawn and call it free speech."

It seems that the Tennessean is coaching their receptionists to take the line that I sensed publishers would take when push comes to shove: the commercial marketing of their product and throwing "free" litter on private yards and public sidewalks is warped into a constitutional freedom of expression. But how far could I push the First Amendment to cover whatever I wanted it to mean?

This morning if I walked up to the Tennessean's front door and, instead of addressing the receptionist, merely threw down the paper they first threw at my yard, wouldn't that 6-foot-tall burly security guard in the parking lot compel me to pick it up? Or what if I chose to stay in the lobby and exercise my freedom of speech in listing the ways that throwing paper on my yard for months is a violation of my rights? Wouldn't that same security guard eventually make me leave the premises, thus expressing the paper's property rights? How is it that the Tennessean has the right to exercise it's free speech at my property when I wouldn't enjoy the right to such expression at its property? And how does ending the uninvited trashing of a neighborhood at cost to diminishing timber resources ever impinge upon someone else's First Amendment rights?


  1. Mike,

    There are two things going on with this I suspect. First it would cost a lot of money to have these delivered by the USPS. Second is that it is illegal to put them in a mailbox if there is no postage paid. So the cheaper alternative is to employ drive by tossers. This goes on all the way to the edge of Davidson county I can assure you. Mine makes great compost.

  2. Ha! I had to throw away my print copy of Wednesday's Tennessean, because when I opened it, the Macy's fragrance samples had saturated the entire paper and of course triggered an asthma attack as I am allergic!

    I couldn't get that thing out of my house fast enough. A pox on them!

  3. The Tennessean might be willing to listen to its customers. Its important to remember that you are not the customer, you are the product. The Tennessean is selling ad space to companies based on the number of potential readers. They're selling a product (you) to the advertisers based on the idea that you are reading the ads.

    Another approach to this problem might be to contact the advertisers and point out to them that not only are their ad rates inflated by bogus circulation numbers, but that a lot of ill will is being created among potential customers. Advertisers don't like ill will, its the opposite of what they're paying for. If enough advertisers stop paying for newspapers to be dumped by the side of the road, the Tennessean will stop doing it.