Do you shop at a Kroger supermarket? Or maybe at Ralph’s, Fred Meyer, King Sooper’s, or… well, never mind, all of these and more are part of the vast Kroger fiefdom of 2,759 grocery stores spanning the US, plus owning 38 food processing plants, 1,556 gas stations, and 251 jewelry stores. In short, Kroger is BIG – sacking up revenues topping $121 billion a year from us consumers.

Yet, for all of its mass and money, Kroger has recently shown itself to be pathetically small – small as in petty, snooty… bullying.

The chain’s carefully crafted PR image portrays it as “America’s Grocer” – wherever you are, they claim to be your friendly neighbor and dedicated community supporter. So imagine the surprise of real neighbors this month when aloof executives in Kroger’s faraway Cincinnati headquarters turned on hundreds of communities in 35 states by arbitrarily tossing out all local newsweeklies and community papers that had been distributed in the stores free of charge.

While establishment newspapers that peddle the corporate line – from hedge fund-owned dailies to the Wall Street Journal – are still allowed to sell their papers inside Kroger, customers can no longer find racks of their free local papers. In such major cities as Colorado Springs, Lansing, Louisville, Memphis, Omaha, and Salt Lake City, these unique papers are in the historic tradition of America’s pamphleteers,and independent populist weeklies. They cover a wide diversity of local stories, offer alternative viewpoints, publish investigative exposés, report on community events, and otherwise actually let people know what’s happening in their town.

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By shutting out these community papers, Kroger is literally banning the free press from its stores. That’s not only unneighborly – it’s unAmerican.

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