Newspapers Duel Over Alleged Ad Overbilling

By: E&P Staff

The Lincoln Standard of Alum Creek, W. Va., has threatened to file a class
action complaint against rival paper, the Lincoln Journal, if county commissioners don?t investigate alleged overbilling of legal advertisements, local CBS-affiliate WOWK reported today on its Web site.

Lincoln Standard publisher Dan Butcher claims that the Journal has
overbilled Lincoln County for legal advertisements, including the delinquent tax list, for an excess of thousands of dollars. Butcher cites invoices that show that the county paid over $20,000 to publish the delinquent tax list in the Journal, a sum that is thousands of dollars more than what at least two other newspapers charge in other West Virginia counties.

The Lincoln Standard has run a series of news articles and opinion pieces on the alleged improprieties of the Journal. The latter?s publisher, Tom Robinson, told WOWK television reporters that his company has committed no crime, and charges according to the law. Robinson added that the bill for publishing the list is actually for two papers: the Journal and the Sentinel.

The county commission president Charles McCann told camera crews that the county had already investigated the matter, and that his legal counselors have told him that they ?don?t really believe that there?s anything improper or wrong with anything? the county is doing. However, a public forum for taxpayers to voice their opinions on future spending is being planned.

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