Dec 23, 2012

From the Publisher…

As publisher, I feel compelled to respond to an article The Daily Advocate published in both the Dec. 16 free Sunday edition as well as the Dec. 17 edition concerning The Early Bird.

I would like to clarify a few facts the regional publisher, who resides and has offices in another county, and his out-of- state owners had to say about our locally owned and operated newspaper.

The article referred to our newspaper as a “weekly shopper news-type publication.” We are a real, bonafide weekly newspaper. On Dec. 3, Judge Jonathan P. Hein, Darke County Court of Common Pleas wrote, “The Court declares that the weekly newspaper known as The Early Bird….qualifies as a newspaper of general circulation within Darke County, Ohio.”

I’m not sure why the article was placed in both editions, unless the publisher was not confident the free edition would be fully distributed.

Maybe he just wanted to make sure that almost 4,000 homes in Darke County received it the next day.

You see, no one really knows the distribution numbers for their weekend shopper-like edition because it is neither audited nor accounted for in their statement of ownership.

Since their membership in the Audit Bureau of Circulation was suspended in 2003, the local daily, which has changed ownership many times over the years and has had a myriad of publishers, has relied on a “Publisher’s Sworn Statement” to inform advertisers and readers of their distribution figures.

The Early Bird’s distribution figures have been audited for years by a nationally known audit firm, CAC (Certified Audit of Circulations). However, due to a change in ownership and CAC’s recent merger with ABC we have been audited by CVC (Circulation Verification Council).

As a result our advertisers will see our actual audited distribution figures. These figures will show a distribution of about six times that of the local daily.

Of most concern, not only to the local daily, but newspapers throughout the state, the Dec. 3 decision will allow The Early Bird to accept legal advertising, as described in criteria set forth in the Ohio Revised Code 7.12.

The article says the Ohio Second District Court will soon hear testimony presented on behalf of The Daly Advocate regarding this decision. The publisher, his editor and his Philadelphia owners were apparently not aware that appellate courts do not hear testimony. They may review arguments that have already been presented and review Judge Hein’s ruling, but will not actually hear testimony.

The Daily Advocate article quotes David Dix, President of the Ohio Newspaper Association: “We believe the publication of public notices are important and deserve wide circulation.” I couldn’t agree more.

The publisher and his Philadelphia owners also state the legislation intended that publications carrying legal advertising be “invited” into the homes (subscriptions) but since 2003, the last audit they conducted showed 38% fewer people have “invited” them in.

This number is reached by comparing their last audit from ABC, showing a circulation of 6,468, to their “Statement of Ownership” published October 1, 2012, showing a circulation of 3,991.

Most daily papers, respected ones anyway, who are required by the Post Office to file and publish their Statement of Ownership are upfront with advertisers and publish it prominently within the first five pages, not bury it in fine print in their classified section.

The publisher also stated, “There are no taxpayer dollars associated with real estate public notices.” While this is true, he failed to mention all the legal notices from the Darke County Treasurer’s office are paid for with taxpayer dollars.

Since the 1800s, Ohio law has required that public subdivisions advertise and pay for public Legal Notices in a local paper of “General Circulation.” That definition now is amended to include Community Newspapers and electronic Internet advertising.

Prior to the law being changed, Public authorities had no choice but to advertise in the paid newspaper, with no circulation verification or price competition. The Legislative Service Commission estimated that political subdivisions throughout Ohio paid $4.1 million in public notice advertising costs in fiscal year 2010.

With enactment of Substitute Amended House Bill 153, Ohio’s Biennial Budget Bill, public authorities now enjoy advertising choices and price competition when providing legal notices to Ohio citizens.

As The Early Bird continues to become bigger, better and brighter we intend to compete for readers and advertisers and succeed in becoming Darke County’s newspaper of choice.


Anonymous said...

Boo-ya! Nice job, nothing wrong with a little friendly competition.

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