AirTalk for September 21, 2011

Former LA Times Magazine publisher sues the paper over “discriminatory” distribution

jasoneppink/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

A Los Angeles Times vending machine.

Did you get your Sunday Los Angeles Times Magazine this past weekend? If you did, chances are you don’t live in Compton or Highland Park. According to Steven Gellman, the former publisher of the magazine, this doesn't fly. Gellman’s suing the Times and Tribune over his firing, accusing them of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violations of business and professions codes. And he's looking for $13-million in damages.

The suit alleges that the Los Angeles Times discontinued distribution of its Sunday magazine to low-income and demographically minority neighborhoods -- to save money. Subscribers in these areas are still charged the same price as “white affluent subscribers” who get the magazine with their paper.

Gary Weitman, a spokesman from Tribune, responded in a statement, “After reviewing the lawsuit filed by Mr. Gellman, we believe the claims contained in it are without merit. As this is a matter of ongoing litigation, we will defer further comment.”

But on Twitter, the LA Times Social feed (@latimessocial), tweeted in response to a subscriber’s complaint about not getting the Sunday magazine, that it’s “available to any subscriber who requests it.”

This seems to indicate that the paper is making choices about distribution based on demographics.

WEIGH IN:

Here’s what we want to know: do you subscribe to the Los Angeles Times? Do you get the Sunday magazine? If not, would it upset you to learn that it might be because you’re neighborhood is considered less desirable somehow? Or would you think this is a valid business decision that a paper is making during tough economic times?


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