Local newspapers targeted over ads

RUTLAND Several Vermont newspapers have found themselves in hot water over some housing rental advertisements that were eventually considered discriminating, according to Mike Donoghue, executive director of the Vermont Press Association. Seven Days, a Burlington-based alternative weekly, is the latest to get socked. The paper noted, after extensive negotiations, the paper was fined $45,000, including $30,000 in free advertising over two years. The paper also incurred more than $2,500 in legal fees. The Rutland Herald and the Times Argus also have been stung in recent years, according to public records. The Vermont Press Association believes a few other newspapers have been in entrapped, but financial settlements were reached before the cases became public. The VPA executive board agreed to try to help newspapers get a handle on the matter. Donoghue said the VPA understands that at least one daily and one non-daily are now in the cross-hairs of regulators. Instead of telling a newspaper right away about an offending ad, regulators wait until a paper have a couple of dozen of offending ads. At that point they take action on each one, often at $1,000 for each violation.

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