Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Minneapolis Star Tribune sued for circulation problems.

Media: The guys at Powerline will have fun with this.

Four advertisers sued the Star Tribune and its parent company on Tuesday, claiming Minnesota's largest newspaper inflated its circulation numbers so it could charge more for ads. The federal lawsuit seeking class-action status alleges the Star Tribune required distributors to dump unsold papers and failed to report returned papers accurately. The lawsuit includes allegations by an unnamed Star Tribune distributor who also works for one of the plaintiffs, Masterson Personnel, Inc. It claims that in December 2003, a Star Tribune circulation worker told the distributor to order an extra 2,500 papers per week, saying the distributor would be reimbursed later for the papers. The distributor bought extra papers for three weeks, for a total of 7,500 papers, the lawsuit alleges. The extra order was "because circulation numbers for the Star Tribune were down and needed to be increased before the end of December 2003. The representative stated that the distributor could give the extra papers away, sell them, or simply could throw them away,'' the lawsuit said. The other plaintiffs are Alternative Staffing, Inc., Vision Staffing Solutions, Inc., and Purchasing Professionals, Inc. All four are employment agencies. Messages left with the newspaper and its corporate parent, the McClatchy Co., weren't immediately returned.

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