Calkins Media vice president Thomas Spurgeon tells readers that he hired lawyers to investigate the Burlington County Times’s “Best of Burlington 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards” and they found that “voting results for several of the categories were not accurately reflected in the special advertising section in which the results were announced” and “the results did not reflect the high ethical standards that we set for ourselves.” Did advertisers pay someone at the paper to “win”? A Romenesko tipster says: “Employees used to openly joke that these things could be bought. For this to be disclosed on A1, the shit must have really hit the fan somehow.”
I’m hoping Spurgeon will tell Romenesko readers more. I’ve left a phone message for him.
The paper says it’s set these new rules for the 2012 contest:
* Readers’ votes will be directed to a third-party accounting firm, Kreischer Miller, to tabulate and confirm the top vote getters.
* The paper will no longer sell advertising in the section where the voting results will be published.
* A corporate ombudsman has been named to oversee the voting process.