New York Post gets down in the dumps
By Richard T. Pienciak – New York Daily March 31, 2006
Tens of thousands of New York Posts were dumped at two recycling centers yesterday morning, just hours after being printed, in a bizarre circulation ploy that has already come to the attention of newspaper circulation authorities.
An executive at a Brooklyn facility where at least 10,000 Posts were dumped said the papers would be sent to China, still wrapped in their original plastic binders.
Four vanloads of bundled Posts were unceremoniously thrown into the recycling plant in the Gowanus section at 6:30 a.m. without any attempt ever having been made to distribute them.
Several hours later, a large Penske truck containing another 10,000 still-bundled Posts was unloaded at a recycling center in Greenpoint.
The decision to dump the Posts en masse is even more puzzling as the papers had been sponsored by Nike and Jordan Brand, and were originally destined to be given away to consumers in the city.
It was unclear last night how much Nike had been asked to pay for the specially printed newspapers, which the Post is understood to be claiming as paid-for circulation.
Calls to the Post's publisher, editor in chief and vice president of circulation were not returned. "The New York Post will have no comment," said spokesman Howard Rubenstein.
Calls to Nike officials were not returned.
After receiving tips that the city was being flooded with free Posts, the Daily News watched as thousands of papers, 50 to a bundle, arrived at a location in Greenwich Village from the Post printing plant in the Bronx. The papers were then redistributed into smaller vans.
When the vans arrived at the recycling plant in Gowanus, the papers were tossed onto the facility's floor, scooped up with a payloader, then transported to a baler. A short time later, bales of paper goods were loaded onto a tractor-trailer - on the next leg of a journey to China.
An official from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the newspaper industry's watchdog group, arrived on the scene and witnessed the dumping operation. He left with one of the promotional copies.
The same dumping scenario ensued when the Penske rental arrived at the Greenpoint location - a payloader picked up the papers and transported them to a baler. About an hour later, a tractor-trailer containing the bales left the premises.
When questioned by The News, an official at Five Star Carting insisted he had not been expecting the dumped papers.
"That's not right. They shouldn't be throwing away new papers like that. That's wrong," he said.
The wholesale dumping at the recycling centers was only part of the Post's circulation-pumping operation.
Thousands more free copies were spotted unattended at delis, transit hubs and other storefronts across the city.
For example, bundles ranging from waist-high to knee-high were spotted late in the day at 40th St. and Seventh Ave.; 36th St. and Seventh Ave.; Broadway and 14th St.; and inside Grand Central, the Port Authority Bus Terminal and Penn Station.
Dozens of unopened bundles also were spotted outside LIRR and subway stations in Queens and Brooklyn. In two instances, The News witnessed trucks arriving at those locations and removing thousands of the papers, presumably to be disposed of elsewhere.
Vans carrying thousands of papers retrieved from several sites in Queens were followed to the home of a newspaper distributor in Jamaica, where the Posts were dumped in the man's backyard. When a News photographer appeared on the scene, a man covered the still-bundled Posts with a tarp.
All of the tens of thousands of Posts bore the message "Promotional Copy." The "25 Cents" price tag in the upper righthand corner was replaced with a company logo and the words "Compliments of Jordan Brand."
Distribution of free, sponsored copies are permitted under ABC rules, but papers not distributed are supposed to be returned - and not counted as part of third-party bulk circulation.
The circulation scam was being perpetrated on the eve of today's final reporting day of the ABC newspaper reporting period. Sources told The News the Post-Nike program was slated to continue today.
Sources also said that late in the day Post circulation officials were making frantic calls to the heads of its hawker operations, insisting that the street distributors resume efforts to distribute as many of the Jordan Brand papers as possible.
But by nightfall, thousands of those copies were still piled on street corners, undistributed.
Last updated 04/04/2006