Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Urban Tulsa Throws in the Towel; Admits 'Incorrect' Numbers in Bates Column

When Urban Tulsa Weekly pulled the Michael Bates column from its website the other day, it was a crack in the paper's defense against the Tulsa World's libel suit.

If UTW actually believed in the column, they could have kept it on the site and issued a statement standing behind the column. They didn't.

Instead, it disappeared. The next step in many such cases is a retraction and an apology, which is just what UTW published today. (The entire UTW letter to readers is below.)

No word on Michael Bates' response, though the World today reports that he is still a defendant in the libel suit.

Here's the UTW retraction from publisher Keith Skrzypczak
January 19, 2009

Dear Readers:

We would like to provide some additional information regarding the column “Tulsa Whirried” written by Michael D. Bates that appeared in the January 15-2 1, 2009 edition of the Urban Tulsa Weekly. 
Prior to publication we reviewed the column, but did not contact the Tulsa World to confirm the information about the Tulsa World’s circulation in Michael D. Bates’ column. After being sued by the Tulsa World for defamation, we sat down with the Tulsa World and discussed their concerns about the statements in Mr. Bates’ column. We now understand that information in Michael D. Bates’ column about the Tulsa World’s circulation numbers and audits was incorrect. The Tulsa World has provided its audit information, which shows that its circulation numbers were not inflated as suggested by the column and its percentages have been consistent with those of other major daily newspapers in the United States. Further, Urban Tulsa Weekly has no reason to suspect or suggest that the Tulsa World’s circulation figures were inflated. We regret and retract that suggestion.
 Lastly, Michael D. Bates’ column incorrectly stated that the Tulsa World was not audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) for almost a decade when in fact that statement was not true. The Tulsa World circulation was audited by ABC until 2001. We also regret any questions that the column raised regarding the authenticity of the Tulsa World’s circulation audits or their reasons for selecting an auditing company other than the ABC. Grant Thornton, LLP, the private auditing firm selected and used by the Tulsa World for a period of years, is a well known and highly respected auditing firm. Urban Tulsa Weekly has no reason to question its auditing practices.
In this case, we now understand the legitimate concerns of the Tulsa World and appreciate the chance to sit down with its representatives, review their information and correct the record.

Keith Skrzypczak 
Editor and Publisher 
Urban Tulsa Weekly