‘Tulsa World’ Sues Oklahoma Weekly for Libel

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The Tulsa World newspaper has filed a libel suit against Urban Tulsa Weekly, alleging columnist Michael Bates falsely claimed the World had misled advertisers about circulation figures.

Publisher Robert E. Lorton III said in a story published Friday that when a firm “purportedly in the news business makes a claim that we have misled our advertisers, they call into question our integrity, and we cannot and will not let that stand.”

Lorton said the World objects to Bates’ claim in the weekly’s Jan. 15 paper that the World concealed circulation declines from 1997 to 2007. Bates specifically alleged that a 2006 report by the Audit Bureau of Circulation “suggests the World was inflating its circulation by as much as 20 percent.”

The World said the ABC audit showed drops of 6 percent in daily circulation and 5 percent in Sunday circulation for the period in question.

The lawsuit does not dispute that the newspaper’s print editions have followed industry trends toward smaller circulation over the past decade, but it does dispute Bates’ claim that the losses were concealed or might have been greater than reported.

The World contends that Bates and Publisher Keith Skrzypcak of Urban Tulsa Weekly knowingly published the false information in an attempt to “gain commercial advantage.”

Skrzypcak had no comment when contacted Friday by The Associated Press.

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