Yesterday's headline at WBIR's website is pretty hot stuff: "War brewing over Knox newspaper advertising deal." Wow! Newspaper wars are so early 20th century--are there enough papers left to even start one up these days? Apparently so--and even better, we're one of the newspapers supposedly engaged in heated battle:
"'This has been called serious, some have called it worse than Watergate,' D. Lindsey Young, an investigative reporter and spokesman for the publication said.
"Young did not specify who called the contract situation 'worse than Watergate'.
This is worse than Watergate--because we never actually got any part of that contract. We got rejected last March."The attorney represents The Knoxville Journal, a local newspaper that placed a bid for the county contract but did not receive the work. Instead, the deal was offered to the Knoxville News-Sentinel and the MetroPulse. In all, the county awarded the News-Sentinel and MetroPulse the advertising deal as part of a $125,000 contract."
Nevertheless, that has not prevented the champions of truth at the Knoxville Journal from complaining about it to Knox County Commission more than six months after Knox County decided not to award us a contract to print their legal notices. They rescinded an initial offer after a complaint by the Knoxville Journal, which noted that free papers such as Metro Pulse are not considered official "newspapers of record" by the atorney gneral.
Somehow, we managed to move on with our lives. But, uh, what's this war about, then? Apparently, even though the Journal's owners know our offer was rescinded, they still seem to think there is a contract there for them to pursue.
"Young says the Journal has no issue with the News-Sentinel being awarded the contract for daily advertising. It's the deal with the MetroPulse that they are disputing."
Note to Knoxville Journal: If we really did get a deal with Knox County to print their legal notices, we'd be printing their legal notices.
Perhaps if they had unleashed one of their investigative reporters to read Metro Pulse in the past six months, then he or she might have noted the lack of legal notices--which in turn might lead to the surprising conclusion that Metro Pulse never did get a contract. Or maybe that's too logical when a conspiracy theory sounds so much better?
The WBIR story notes that County Commissioner Amy Broyles has promised to look into the matter. Meanwhile, I'd like to offer a simple suggestion: Let's ask the AG to take another look at the criteria for what constitutes a "newspaper of record." It could use updating.
UPDATE Oct. 27, 2010: WBIR changed Young's description in their story from "attorney" to "an investigative reporter and spokesman for the publication;" so I've updated our quote from the story likewise.
In a fax to our office, Mr. Young writes:
"I will no comment on other disparaging remarks an a complete lack of know of the issues at this time." [sic]