Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

City Beautification Plan Irks Chicago Papers Publishers Cry First Amendment Foul at City Plan to Lump All Newspapers into One Modern Vending Box

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

City Beautification Plan Irks Chicago Papers Publishers Cry First Amendment Foul at City Plan to Lump All Newspapers into One Modern Vending Box

Article excerpt

Ever since the first printing press arrived in Chicago, the city's newspapers have slugged it out for dominance. Go to the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Illinois Street near downtown and you'll see 21 news racks lined up competing for attention. The racks come in a variety of shapes and colors with choices ranging from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to neighborhood and suburban papers, from the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times to job guides.

Now a newspaper war of a different sort is raging in the Windy City. Mayor Richard Daley and the City Council have muscled through a law to replace many of the newspapers' freestanding racks with sleek new vending machines holding multiple papers. The mayor says the new machines will make downtown look more scenic. Critics argue they will leave it more sterile and rob newspapers of their First Amendment right to control their own distribution.

"It's greatly disturbing to us on a free-speech basis," says Brian Hieggelke, editor and publisher of Newcity, a weekly news and arts paper. The new machines will restrict how many copies Newcity can distribute each week, he says. The controversial law launches a one-year program that replaces 560 freestanding newspaper racks along tourist-filled Michigan Avenue and State Street with approximately 60 of the multiple-newspaper machines. The law awards a no-bid contract to Paris-based J.C. Decaux - a company known for its bus shelters and public toilets around the world - to operate the new machines. After a year, the Daley administration will consider whether to use the machines across Chicago. The new machines look innocent enough. The 8- by 4 foot iron boxes are green, with stately pillars on the sides. Each unit features two rows of four newspaper boxes. Decaux will install the machines for free in return for rights to sell advertisements on their backs. The multiple-newspaper machines may appear on the streets of other US cities. San Francisco is accepting bids to place them throughout the city later this year, and Decaux is marketing the idea to officials in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, says Suzanne Davis, the company's senior vice president. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.