Lexington County, SC (Paul Kirby) – Residents countywide have complained for years, over and over, to anyone who’ll listen, about the area’s largest print newspaper. They regularly throw trial, limited edition issues of their publications in people’s drives. The print distributor tries to entice subscribers with these papers and coupons, often wrapped in pink bags to protect them for a short time from the weather.
The company’s idea might work except for the fact that a great majority of people now get their news on-line. Most print papers are quickly dying and as they take their last breaths, they pull out all the stops to get new subscribers. Because of this, many, perhaps most people simply let the pink bags and papers just lay right where they’ve landed, in a drive or at the edge of the street. Sometimes, they stay there long enough that two or three end up in the same place. The aggravating bags and their content lay there and people simply drive over them. Eventually, they begin to disintegrate, break apart, and blow around. Danny Jones, the mayor of South Congaree, said recently when he called to complain, “These things look terrible. Just on my street, there are a quite a few and some of the homes are unoccupied. The route driver will continue to throw them out even if there are four or five already there!” Jones said his street is littered with the remnants of torn or shredded papers that no one seems to want. “I wish they would just stop! They’re not giving us a gift; they’re littering our streets and yards, it’s terrible.”
Many people think this is littering, it certainly looks that way. They’ve tried to get law enforcement to ticket the newspaper company or their employees who do this. The problem is, it's perfectly legal. The practice is protected under the First Amendment of the US Constitution. This guarantees us, and them, the right to free speech. Any attempts at local bans on the practices have quickly been struck down in higher courts across the country. Recently, a municipality in Georgia tried to stop it with a local ordinance. It was challenged in the courts and that state’s supreme court ruled 6-1 against the town’s law.
Does this mean that it’s hopeless and your road, street, yard, or drive will forever be covered in pink bags of unwanted papers? In short, no. According to The State Media’s Business Office, you do have the right to call distribution and tell them to stop throwing these pesky bags at your house.
After trying this, we’ve developed this step-by-step guide to stopping the pink bags.
1. Call (800) 888-3566.
2. When the voice answering system answers, it gives you some choices. Press #3.
3. It will then ask you to tell the machine what the problem is. Say nothing! Eventually, it will say it doesn’t understand and transfer you to a real person.
4. Tell them to STOP! You’ll have to give them your address, but they do eventually tell you that they will notify the route driver and their manager to discontinue.
Good luck and cleaner streets and yards ahead!