Is Yellow Pages Spam a Symbol of Waste or Actual Waste?

A recent post by Charles Laughlin on the BIA/Kelsey Local Media Watch blog takes a look at legislation moving through the California State Senate that would put some teeth into print white pages opt-out systems. Basically, it holds directory publishers accountable if they don’t walk their own talk about having opt-out systems in place, which seems like a pretty low bar. But that hasn’t stopped the print directory industry from fighting it.

One quote that seems a little industry tainted to me is the use of the word “symbol” to describe the documentation of print yellow pages litter by irresponsible directory publishers incapable of honoring their own opt-out lists (or recognizing vacant homes for what they are):

State and local legislative bodies have targeted directory publishers because directories have become a visible symbol of waste to many, particularly in markets where there are multiple books distributed and in dense urban markets where stacks of phone books are often left uncollected in apartments foyers, photos of which have become the de facto symbols of the opt-out movement.

Here’s the deal: Print yellow pages litter isn’t a symbol of waste. It is waste. Litter. Trash. Unsolicited junk dumped at households and businesses.

A symbol would be something like a big yellow middle finger directed at people who have the gall to say that they’re not interested in using annual printed directories for local business information in 2010.

A symbol could also be a yellow circle with a cross through it over the term “Opt-In”.

Documented print yellow pages waste isn’t a symbol of waste. It’s documented waste.

2 thoughts on “Is Yellow Pages Spam a Symbol of Waste or Actual Waste?”

  1. Hi Ed,
    For what it’s worth I think you are misreading my use of the word symbol. My point is that the photos of phone books stacked in apartment building foyers have become an image that symbolizes what frustrates people about the way Yellow Pages are distributed. I don’t think a “symbol” is by definition something that isn’t real; it is merely something that represents a larger idea or concept.

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