An update to Virginia-Highland residents about the AJC littering our neighborhood

ImageOne thing I hate even more than lima beans is corporate littering of our neighborhood. I have some good news about the latter to share with you today.

As Kay Stephenson of “Keep Virginia-Highland Beautiful” mentioned in our neighborhood’s private social network back in September, the AJC has been up to their old tricks. In a nutshell: the AJC has so few paid subscribers to the print edition of the newspaper, that they have resorted to unbundling the ads, putting them into plastic bags, and dumping them by the hundreds of thousands on streets, sidewalks and driveways of people who don’t subscribe to the AJC – who never requested them. These end up creating a huge amount of litter in the neighborhood and all around metro Atlanta.

Some of you may remember that in 2010, the AJC and the Virginia-Highland Civic Association came to an agreement that the AJC would permanently cease dumping “AJC Reach” or other ad circulars in the neighborhood, unless specifically requested by individual residents. 

The AJC recently broke their agreement and that ticked me off.

This week we spoke with Joe McKinnon, Vice President, Fulfillment at the AJC (770-263-3805; jmckinnon@ajc.com); Willie Leonard who runs the Buyer’s Edge Select / AJC Reach program at the AJC (wleonard@ajc.com); and Robert McDonald of ACI Circulation (404-849-1337; rmcdonald@acicirculation.com), who is in charge of quality control for the company that handles circulation of Buyer’s Edge Select / AJC Reach. Here’s what we know:

– Mr. McKinnon, Mr. Leonard and Mr. McDonald committed this week that the AJC will resume honoring its 2010 agreement with the Virginia-Highland Civic Association to not distribute Buyer’s Edge Select / AJC Reach ad circulars in the streets, sidewalks, gutters, driveways/yards, etc in the neighborhood, unless specifically requested by individual residents.

– Mr. McKinnon of the AJC said that he will personally see to it that this problem is resolved and that the AJC will stop distributing Buyer’s Edge Select / AJC Reach ad circulars in the streets, sidewalks, gutters, driveways/yards, etc in Virginia-Highland, unless specifically requested by individual residents.

– Mr. McDonald of ACI said that he would send a crew to do a sweep of the neighborhood yesterday, to remove any of the ad circulars still out from Sunday’s distribution.

– Mr. McDonald of ACI blamed the broken agreement on human error, and said that if there is ever any problem in the future, to call him directly, and he invited me to share his phone number in my update to our neighborhood.

– Anyone in our neighborhood who wants to receive Buyer’s Edge Select / AJC Reach ad circulars can continue to receive them. If you want to have the AJC deliver Buyer’s Edge Select / AJC Reach at your residence, call the AJC’s “customer care department” at 404-522-4141 and they will add you to their delivery list.

– And at the same time, this should put an end to the widespread littering by the AJC in our neighborhood in Virginia-Highland.

Advertisements

Article: Kennesaw Retiree Battles AJC to Stop Unrequested Ad Litter

Kennesaw Patch has a feature article about Kennesaw resident William Harris, who has battled the AJC to stop “Evening Edge”, an advertising flyer similar to “AJC Reach”.

“I am simply one individual who is trying to get a large, faceless corporation to do the ‘right thing’,” Harris told Kennesaw Patch.

From the article:

“Litter like this is unacceptable no matter what the source,” stated Harris. “Keep in mind that we are talking about 1.7 million such flyers weekly in metro Atlanta. It isn’t just a few thousand here and there; it is a major source of litter in the whole of Atlanta [and] these statistics come from the AJC and the firm they hired to toss this stuff.”

Although Harris is concerned about the environmental effects of the flyers, he said that his primary concern about the deliveries is the safety of homeowners.

“I am concerned with litter and the environment, but also I am really [upset] that they are putting a bull’s eye on my property for any nogoodnik that is looking for some stuff to take the pawn shop. This means that such toss away papers will pile up and serve as an invitation to any burglars that no one is in residence. I don’t want to come home to find my home has been cleaned out because some criminals have noticed the pile up of these ‘Evening Edge’ papers.”

Read the full article: Kennesaw Retiree Battles Unsolicited Mail (Kennesaw Patch)

Related article: How to Stop AJC Reach for Your Entire Neighborhood

How to Stop AJC Reach for Your Entire Neighborhood

Here’s how to stop AJC Reach across your entire neighborhood. This is an easy way to stop AJC Reach delivery across a wide area.

If enough neighborhoods do this, then unwanted litter across Atlanta will be greatly reduced or eliminated.

The AJC has stated in writing (documented at the bottom of this post, after the jump) that if you are a “designated representative of your HOA or community association”, you can contact Willie Leonard (e-mail: wleonard@ajc.com) of the AJC to direct the AJC to stop delivery of AJC Reach to your entire community.

What we did in our neighborhood: We raised the issue with the Virginia-Highland Civic Association and asked if the civic association would write such a letter to Mr. Leonard. After deliberation and vote, the president of the civic association sent the e-mail to Mr. Leonard; she received an e-mail back from Mr. Leonard, so he did in fact receive the e-mail. Since then, we have not seen any deliveries of AJC Reach in Virginia-Highland. (Thank you to VHCA board for sending the letter.)

What you can do: Ask your HOA or community association to send a similar letter to Mr. Leonard of the AJC.

Here’s a draft that you could use as a template for your neighborhood:

“Responding to the AJC’s information from Dawn Forman of AJC customer service, the Virginia-Highland Civic Association directs the AJC to permanently cease dumping any future deliveries of “AJC Reach” or other ad circulars in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood that would otherwise be delivered in the streets, sidewalks, gutters, driveways/yards, etc in the neighborhood, unless specifically requested by individual residents. Should the AJC decide to resume deliveries of AJC Reach in Virginia-Highland, the neighborhood association directs the AJC to do so via USPS; or only to those residents who specifically opt-in to receive deliveries. Neighborhood Boundaries for Virginia-Highland: “The area bounded on the north by Amsterdam Avenue and its extension to Briarcliff Road, on the south by Ponce de Leon Avenue, on the east by Briarcliff Road, and on the west by the Southern Railroad Line which is within the city limits of Atlanta constitute the Virginia-Highland neighborhood.”

If your HOA or neighborhood association sends such a letter to the AJC, please contact us so we can track this and report on it here.

Continue reading How to Stop AJC Reach for Your Entire Neighborhood

The AJC is at it Again: Residents Complain About AJC Reach Littering Atlanta

Like a bad zombie movie, the AJC is back at it again.

CBS Atlanta Reports:

“It’s the same thing we saw all last spring and summer, plastic bags filled with ads thrown onto driveways, many ending up in the street.”

Video: Is The AJC Breaking The City’s Litter Law? (CBS Atlanta)

And more in this summary from a blogger who’s mad as heck and not going to take it. “See, I told you the AJC Sucked!” (by the creatively named “The Atlanta Journal Constitution Sucks”

We’ll have more on this issue tomorrow, with an article about how to stop AJC Reach in your entire neighborhood.

Upcoming: Presentation at Virginia-Highland Civic Association Annual Meeting About AJC Reach

The AJC Reach littering issue is on the agenda for the Virginia-Highland Civic Association annual meeting this Monday evening, with a 5 minute update scheduled.

Here is a post with an update, on the Virginia-Highland yahoo group, seeking feedback from the community in advance of the presentation.

Please post any ideas and suggestions for this 5 minute update, either here or on the VHList Yahoo Group.

Stay tuned for reports here, after the annual meeting.

Reader Mail: “Atlanta Journal Constitution is NOT a HERO”

AJC Reach advertising circular in gutter in Virginia Highland

StopAJCReach.org received this reader mail from William Harris, who publishes several blogs, including http://www.atlantajournal-constitution.blogspot.com.

Mr. Harris sent this letter to Sanford H. Schwartz, President of Cox Media Group, parent company of the AJC, seeking comment about AJC Reach litter in Atlanta.

9/4/2010

Mr. Sanford H Schwartz
President, Cox Media Group
6205 Peachtree Dunwoody Road
Atlanta, GA 30328-4524

RE: Atlanta Journal Constitution

Dear Mr. Schwartz:

I have seen your site “Cox Conserves Heroes” and while I am impressed by it I have to comment that it seems rather odd that Cox can on one hand support conservation efforts and on the other have their major Cox newspaper (Atlanta Journal Constitution) throw 1,500,000 advertising flyers each week onto lawns, driveways, sidewalks and sometimes even in the gutters in the Atlanta metro area.

You could do far more for the environment by making the AJC go back to mail delivery of their advertising supplements than you are doing with your entire Hero’s organization.

The firm that the AJC chose to distribute their toss down advertising circular has had a very poor history and lasted 7 months in the Dallas area, doing exactly what they are now doing in Atlanta.

It seems that the AJC Executive Selection Committee knew about the poor reputation of American Circulation Innovators (ACI) even before they chose that firm to be their distributor but went ahead with the contract simply on a low bid basis. Clearly this is putting money before responsible management decisions and it entirely opposite of the values your group has set forth in your ‘Heroes’ awards.

I have several blog sites and I am now asking you for a formal reply to the above concerns so that I can post it on my blogs.

Sincerely,

William Harris

Q&A with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s office about AJC Reach Littering Issue

StopAJCReach.org spoke with Sonji Dade in Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s office about the AJC Reach littering issue. Here’s what the mayor’s office had to say, in our one-on-one interview.

StopAJCReach.org: What is Mayor Kasim Reed’s position on the AJC Reach littering issue?

Sonji Dade: Obviously, it’s an issue that we’re aware of and that the mayor is aware of. The position of the administration is that we are very concerned. We’re very concerned about the fact that the ads are blowing. Many residents have brought that to our attention.

In fact, in East Atlanta, where I live, I saw the Reach ads and they were all over my neighborhood as well.

I can understand why people would feel frustrated and I’m such a big fan of and appreciate what you are doing. I think citizen journalism and people who act as watchdogs are wonderful and great assets to the city.

Any time citizens have a concern and bring it to our attention, it’s something we’re going to work to address.

The mayor’s position has been to direct the administration to try to find some way to resolve this issue without it becoming contentious. We’ve had discussions with the Publisher and his designated appointee. The newspaper could give you more detail, but I’ll do my best. The newspaper directed its vendor to do a couple of tests in targeted neighborhoods to see if there is a better way to weigh down the papers and I think that has been in progress.

StopAJCReach.org: I’m understanding from you that the AJC is doing select testing to get in compliance with City of Atlanta littering ordinances. Could you give us some visibility into why that is not happening already city-wide? The City of Atlanta ordinance doesn’t require testing in “select neighborhoods”. It is a requirement across the entire city.

Sonji Dade: My understanding from the AJC is that the testing is being done to ensure that before they roll out something city-wide that it is effective.

StopAJCReach.org: When did the testing begin?

Sonji Dade: I know that it was in mid-to-end of May. I can follow up with you or have someone from Public Works follow up with the AJC to see if we can get a more definitive answer for you on that. I think it is worthy of a follow up and will do so.

StopAJCReach.org: Do you know when the test is scheduled to end?

Sonji Dade: I don’t know. I’ll have to get the details on the testing for you.

StopAJCReach.org: The AJC has not been responsive to questions. For example, our calls to Senior Vice President Bob Eickhoff have not been returned.

Sonji Dade: That’s unfortunate.

StopAJCReach.org: Would you like me to direct people to contact you with complaints about AJC Reach?

Sonji Dade: If people want to go ahead and shoot an e-mail (sjdade@atlantaga.gov) or let me know it’s still a problem (office: 404.330.6558; cell: 404.276.6866), they can. I think it’s most productive for them to call the AJC, since it is their hotline.

StopAJCReach.org: It should be most productive to call the AJC. However, people who are doing that, are finding that the results are mixed.

Sonji Dade: I can understand why people would feel frustrated, certainly.

##

Follow Up With the AJC About “Testing”

We have not observed any testing of new delivery methods to anchor or weigh down the ad circulars, nor have we heard from anyone in other neighborhoods about any testing. Therefore, we believe it is possible that the AJC has not done any testing.

So we asked the AJC these questions:

1) What date did this testing begin?

2) What neighborhoods has this testing occurred in?

3) What methods were used to weigh down and secure the AJC Reach ad circulars in these tests?

4) When did (or when will) the tests conclude?

5) What is the AJC’s assessment of the outcome of the tests?

6) What are the next steps after the tests and on what timetable will these next steps happen?

AJC Spokesperson Jennifer Morrow would not answer these questions.

##

Reader Allen Cohen writes to us today:

“I’ve called them every week for 5 consecutive times and each time they promised to stop it. They lie like a rug.”

##

What do YOU think? Post your comments below.