Buying a Bulletin Ad Is Tough for Union

Bend's Only Daily Newspaper must be so flush with advertising dollars that it can afford to be really picky about what ads it accepts -

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Bend's Only Daily Newspaper must be so flush with advertising dollars that it can afford to be really picky about what ads it accepts - at least if they come from the union representing Bend Area Transit bus drivers.


Back in mid-April, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 tried to place an ad in The Bulletin urging the city not to raise BAT fares or cut service to cope with its budget crunch. The ad also claimed there is a "gross disparity in wages and benefits between BAT workers and every other city worker."

The union originally wanted the ad to run on Tuesday, April 15, to publicize a press conference and rally to be held at Bend City Hall the next day. But when Catharine Alexander of the union submitted the ad to Bulletin account executive Lisa Legg, she was told the contents had to be vetted by the paper's higher-ups before it could be printed.

"I sent your ad for approval to our management, who would like you to provide a back up for the claims in the ad," Legg wrote to Alexander April 10 in an e-mail provided to The EYE.

Alexander responded by sending some supporting documents. Shortly afterward Legg e-mailed: "For each claim in the ad, we will need to know what page of the information you sent over pertains to that particular claim. We do not know how to look through each page and decide what goes with what."

The next morning, Legg asked if the ad could run on Wednesday instead of Tuesday. "Can we still get Tuesday?" Alexander responded. "I can possibly get it in late, pending approval from management," Legg replied.

But later that day, Legg e-mailed: "I just spoke to Sean Tate, our advertising manager, and Jay Brandt, our advertising director. They would both need to review every page of the documents that you sent, which wouldn't be possible in time to run the ad. We would be happy to run an ad inviting people to come to the Press Conference and Rally."

Alexander next asked Legg if Tate and Brandt could review the ad in time to get it into the Wednesday paper. Legg told her they wouldn't be able to review it until Monday, when they both would be "on the road, which means we'd miss the deadline for Wednesday as well."

Alexander then wrote that "we're thinking the contents of the ad are timeless," so it could run after Wednesday. She asked again when the ad could run.

Legg responded that "once our directors have gone over and approved the content of the ad, then we can get it put in the paper. If they approve it Monday while they are on the road we could get it in for Thursday."

But as of April 21, Legg was telling Alexander that her "manager" - Tate, presumably - still wanted more corroboration: "He said that we will require verification of your information and not a list of phone numbers and people to call."

The Bulletin still hasn't published the union's ad. But on April 28 it did publish an ad from Paratransit Services, the Bremerton, WA-based private company that operates BAT, attacking "the Portland union" for allegedly being uncooperative in negotiations.

And on April 20, it published an editorial calling the BAT drivers' demand for a pay raise "astonishing."

By April 21, Alexander apparently was getting exasperated. "The Union has placed similar ads in the Eugene Register Guard, the Corvallis newspaper, the Grants Pass newspaper and the Salem newspaper without having to prove anything," she e-mailed Legg. "This has been true even when the editorial page has been against the Union's position. If the publisher of the Bulletin doesn't want to take our ad for political purposes the publisher certainly has that right. But the publisher should say so."

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