Print Wins One; Wall Street Journal Chalks It Up to Lobbyists

The national media tend to operate in internet-saturated media environments and often overlook the value of print to key constituencies. As a result, Consumers for Paper Options, an organization funded by the paper and mailing industries, has an uphill battle to be heard as it tries to preserve the ability of the public to read information on paper.

wsjSo it was hardly surprising when the Wall Street Journal recently cast the print-vs-digital issue as a collision of lobbyists rather than a consideration of policy. That’s how it reported the Securities and Exchange Commission’s recent decision to scrap plans to let mutual funds resort to digital distribution of their reports instead of providing hard copies in the mail. SEC Chair Mary Jo White announced in August that the digital-default option would not be included in a package of sweeping reforms to be proposed by the agency. The comment period for the proposal had included opposition by citizens who did not like being forced to read from a screen and felt printed copies were easier to digest.

WSJ’s take on the story? “In the end, big paper scissored big mutual funds.” (subscription required) The consumer voice evidently counted with the agency. Not so much the Wall Street Journal.