For a news organization, trust, balance, fairness, and accuracy are essential. Our journalists, and all of our employees, strive for the highest standards with these values every day.
As president/publisher of APG Ohio and Michigan, I’m consistently proud of our record in the communities we serve.
Events involving our news publications have thrust your local newspaper and our company into the spotlight in the past couple of weeks, challenging our credibility and standards, alleging our disregard for truth and free speech.
Because there’s so much inaccurate and misrepresented information out there, I’m compelled to set the record straight. For the credibility of our news company, yes, but more importantly, in the spirit of publishing truth and accuracy.
First, a little about me: Due to my responsibilities at many newspapers in Ohio and Michigan, I don’t live in Columbus, but reside in a central location to all of them as I try to visit many papers each month. Athens, however, is our hub. I live about 30 minutes from the county line. I am the former president of the Pennsylvania Press Association and have lobbied congressional leaders in Washington, D.C. many times on behalf of journalism. I have a degree in journalism and am a proud Ohio native. And finally, my mother was from Appalachia, born and raised in Parkersburg, W.Va.
My position as president and publisher requires me to support our journalists’ pursuits in serving the community through advertising and subscription sales, and commercial printing. As we have standards in our journalism, we also have standards around each of these revenue sectors. In addition, we occasionally receive reader dissatisfaction with a product or service from a local merchant. We instruct that reader to go directly to the company and do not investigate the claim from the news side.
In recent days, there have been allegations around the Federated Mint ads published in our editions and the validity of the sale of collectible coins.
The facts around the businesses in these ads:
Since November, we have published 38 coin ads throughout our newspapers in Ohio and Michigan. These ads are from two separate businesses, National Mint and Treasury and Federated Mint, both based in Ohio.
National Mint and Treasury advertised 27 times in that timeframe. This company has an A- rating by the BBB since opening three years ago. They advertise nationwide.
Federated Mint published once in December in each of our Athens publications. Prior to this past year, Federated Mint carried an A rating with the BBB for over five years. Last year, the rating was lowered to an F due to two ads that ran in a very small newspaper that contained wording not permitted in a previous agreement the company had with the BBB. The wording was corrected and the company has had no additional occurrences since that incident on the matter. Federated Mint is reviewed as a 3.57 out of 5 on the BBB site by their customers. They are a national company that offers a 100 percent refund.
Most importantly, an assistant editor at The Messenger contacted a spokesperson from Federated Mint, who clarified the company is experiencing longer ship times than normal, but they fully comply with state and federal requirements regarding these delays.The Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act’s administrative rules require a seller to deliver a product within eight weeks of when the consumer pays for the product, which the company has adhered to, per the spokesperson. They inform the consumer when they purchase the product of the anticipated ship date and they notify them of any delays experienced as required by law.
See full response here
Furthermore, they state, Federal Mint is not a scam. A scam is when a company does not deliver a product or get silver plastic coins instead of US mint coins, according to a spokesperson for Federal Mint. Federal Mint adamantly states that they always sell what is advertised, always comply with state and federal delivery laws and puts forth their best efforts to remediate shipping delays or any business issue.
Both companies clearly mark “Paid Advertisement” on all print ads. There is also a disclaimer in bold capitalized letters stating that the company is in no way associated with any federal agency. They sell coins many collectors appreciate.
Our group has received two complaints after the ads reached nearly 50,000 readers.
As president of APG Ohio, I investigated complaints and the customers have since reported that they received a full refund for the delayed shipment. One customer reported they received the product in addition to a full refund.
Regarding the former Athens NEWS editor, she reported on social media that she was fired from her job because she stood up against what she alleges is a scam that was being published in our editions. The social media storm that ensued gave life to the narrative that the dismissal was a violation of the former editor’s free speech rights.
As the publisher, I encourage all employees to bring their objections to any content that we publish or are considering publishing. Not only is it not grounds for dismissal, I expect the checks and balances, especially from the management team.
The former editor stated on Twitter that she was fired for violating our policy. We do not discuss personnel issues in public forums, but I can tell you our company has a code of conduct section in the employee handbook, which clearly defines what is expected of every employee, including their participation on social media. Each employee signs the handbook after accepting the job.
This has been a difficult time for our employees, and our community. We have taken the opportunity to examine our procedures around advertising and this will be a continuous process.
In this case, however, in the spirit of trust, balance, fairness, and accuracy, I can assure you we stand by the advertising in question.
It has been our privilege to deliver your community news since 1848. We’ll be rebuilding our news team and look forward to serving the Athens region for years to come.