MANASSAS, Va. (CN) – The Washington Post has sued The Wall Street Journal, claiming the Journal does not qualify to publish legal notices in Prince William County because it is not a newspaper of general circulation there. Legal ads are a good source of income for newspapers battered by the recession and loss of classified ads to the Internet. The Post challenges an April 28 circuit order that declared the Journal eligible to publish legal notices in the county.
The Post says it has a circulation of 22,907 in Prince William County – 17.6 percent of the households there – while the Journal has a circulation of only 911, less than 1 percent.
Among the Post’s claims are that the Journal does not cover local or regional news in Virginia or Prince William County unless it is of national interest. The Post says other newspapers have far greater circulation in the county than the Journal – The News and Messenger, for example, has an audited circulation of 17,966.
The Post also states that according to the Journal itself, 81 percent of its readers are male, the average household income for a Journal subscriber is $253,100, and the average household net worth is $2,489,000.
But none of this makes the Journal a newspaper of general circulation in the county, so it should not be allowed to run legal ads, the Post says. Nonetheless, on April 28, the Prince William County Circuit Court issued an order declaring that the Journal was eligible to publish legal notices.
The Post says the Journal already has persuaded some lenders and law firms to publish notices of foreclosure sales in the WSJ, “notwithstanding its minimal circulation in the county.”
“Accordingly, the Post has an immediate, pecuniary, and substantial interest in obtaining a declaration that The Wall Street Journal does not satisfy the requirement for publishing legal notices in Prince William County.”
The Post wants the court’s April 28 order tossed. It seeks declaratory judgment.
The Post sued in Prince William County Court. It is represented by Surovell, Markle & Isaacs of Fairfax, Va.