Home' Local Media Today : May 2005 Contents Do Not Touch!
Do Not Call, Do Not Fax, and all the new Do Not legislation being intro-
duced into Congress are making it that much more difficult for us to do our
jobs of gathering information, selling advertising and selling subscriptions.
The Do Not Call law introduced in Pennsylvania in October 2002 and
then nationwide in June 2003 has dramatically curtailed newspapers’ ability
to solicit subscribers. Today call centers can call into less than a third of the
households that we called into just a couple years ago, significantly reducing
the number of new starts and forcing us to be a lot more creative to find new
ways to grow circulation.
The Do Not Fax legislation regulation is just around the corner, slated to
take effect on July 1. This means that a newspaper will need to have
advance written permission to send a fax of information regarding an upcom-
ing special section, or even a proof of an ad. An existing business relation-
ship will not be enough. A verbal approval will not be enough. If an advertis-
er asks us to fax a proof of their an ad, we will need to get their written
authorization first. “No problem”, you say, “I’ll fax out the authorization
form and ask them to sign it and return it”. Won’t work – you just violated
the law. We must already have written permission to send a fax. And then the
fax must be sent only to the individual who signed the authorization form,
not to their replacement at their businessis authorized only so long as the
individual who provided permission still has authority to do so. If your signer
leaves the business, you have to start at square one again.
Although there are legal initiatives to postpone and/or amend this pend-
ing law, there is a real possibility that starting July 1, we will be subject to a
$500 fine judgment for a first offense and $1,500 each and every offense
thereafter.. The opportunistic piranhas are already salivating at opportunities
to take our money. At the Orlando SNA Conference, we were told of a
lawyer who presented a quick and easy fund-raiser to the PTA at the local
school. He asked everyone to bring in all the unsolicited faxes they received
either at home or at the office and he would pay $2.00 for every one of them.
The PTA thought this was a great idea and promoted it to the entire school
community. I doubt that his goal was to recycle fax paper.
Although it may seem farfetched, this scenario sends reminiscent chills
up my spine. Years ago, many newspapers in Pennsylvania were subjected to
numerous fines from watchdog groups who filed claims of discrimination
when real estate ads were published that contained descriptive phrases such
as “walk-in closet” and “great view of the park.” They said these ads dis-
criminated against the physically disabled and visually impaired. While we
never received a complaint from an individual who felt they had been
wronged by these ads, we faced thousands and thousands of dollars in fines.
Many Pennsylvania newspapers paid big bucks to settle these nuisance cases
and make them go away, but the lawsuits kept coming. “House nestled on a
street with mature, leafy trees” apparently discriminated against families with
small children. Finally one newspaper challenged the system (I’m proud to
say it was ours) and after tremendous legal fees and exhaustive trials, we
won and the nuisance suits disappeared across the state.
So what are our options? First, stay informed. Much of the above infor-
mation is from a presentation at the SNA Spring Publisher Conference -a fas-
cinating presentation by Tonda Rush, director of public policy for NNA.
SNA will continue to keep its members informed of legislative updates that
may affect the way we do business. And use SNA to help think outside the
box to create new ways to reach customers. Check the SNA Web site for the
presentation “Using E-mail Marketing and the Internet to Drive Classified
Sales” that was given by Mass2One at the SNA Conference in 2004. And the
Web site also includes the conference presentation on “Best Practices on how
to Grow Circulation” by Al Getler, VP of circulation for Community
Newspaper Company, and “10 Ideas in 10 Minutes” presented by Linnie
Pride, circulation director of CNHI. And please, do not miss the free confer-
ence calls. On a recent SNA Circulation Conference call, 21 terrific creative
ideas were shared by circulation directors from dailies and weeklies across
So even if we can’t call, and we can’t fax, we will continue to find ways to
reach out and touch our readers and advertisers.
SNA Board President
2004 editorial accomplishments of SNA
newspapers – with show-stopping culinary
delights, a captivating slide presentation of
top photos and front pages, and the presenta-
tion of the Journalists of the Year awards, the
evening promises to be a terrific time.
Sponsored by SCAN – the Suburban
Classified Advertising Network – the dinner
is free to conference attendees but non-atten-
dees are welcome to reserve a spot for $75.
The third and final day
of the conference,
Friday June 24, will be
to the editors and ses-
sion topics will include
Institutes’ outlook for
reaching new readers, a
legal update on
reporters’ rights for
of local information,
and a session on “the
life of an editor.” This
interactive session will
be shepherded by John
Humenik of The Quad
City Times (IA) and
Douglas Clement of
The Litchfield County Times (CT), SNA’s
Editors of the Year for 2004, and will cover
many topics like balancing work and life and
staying sane at the same time, the role of edi-
tor as marketer, and the often multi-tasking
responsibilities for the core products, the
niche publications and the website.
Of course, SNA cannot let any conference go
by without the obligatory Great Ideas sessions
so editors and circulators should get their
wheels turning now. With $800 in cash prizes
up for grabs, these sessions promise to be
lively, useful and potentially lucrative so
attendees should definitely plan to share the
methods and ideas that have worked in their
The conference brochure for the editors’ con-
ference is in the center spread of this issue
and both conference brochures are accessed at
www.suburban-news.org. SNA staff stand
ready to assist at 888-486-2466.
Circulation Managers’ & Editorial
Conferences To Be Held
Next Month in Chicago
continued from page 1
Editors at last years conference enjoyed sharing
their newspapers and discussing ways to attract
new readers while keeping core customers.
Similar discussions will occur this year at the
gathering in Chicago, beginning June 23rd.
Steven Duke of The
will lead the session
on reaching new
readers and will
touch on the eight
key experiences that
matter to young and
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