The North Jersey Media Group, which publishes the Record and several local weekly papers, including the Suburbanite and the Twin-boro News, may face legal action because of an ad that ran in a few of those weeklies last week.
In the Dec. 14 issues of the Twin-boro News, the Northern Valley Suburbanite, and the Teaneck Suburbanite, someone paid for a two-and-a-half by four-inch ad that read, "I spend only where they say ‘Merry Christmas.’" There was no signature or any other identifier.
The free newspapers reach some 60,000 households in northwest Bergen County, according to North Jersey Media Group’s Website.
After Jewish Standard readers brought the ad to this newspaper’s attention, the Standard called several high-ranking officials at NJMG seeking comment.
NJMG’s vice president, Stephen Borg, issued a statement that the advertisement "was in violation of our company’s internal advertising policy. The view of that paper is not that of Community Newspapers" and the company, "regrets that the ad was published."
When the Standard called Borg requesting a clarification specifically about who paid for the ad Borg replied, "That is our statement; thank you very much." When asked how much the ad cost, he replied, "That is our statement; thank you very much," then hung up the phone.
But Ron Goldstein, the owner of Salon Salon in Westwood, is considering suing North Jersey Media Group over the ad. Salon Salon ran an ad directly next to the "Merry Christmas" ad that was the same height as the anonymous spot. Goldstein told the Standard that he had received a number of calls from upset customers who felt that the anonymous ad was part of his, and that the message came from him.
"I know that some Jewish customers called up very upset. They just wanted to know if we had anything to do with it," said Goldstein, who bought the store three months ago and has run ads weekly in the North Jersey newspapers in order to drum up business. "What worries me are the people who didn’t call, who just think that this ad was mine."
Goldstein forwarded a letter of apology written to him by Vincent Carnevale, advertising director of the media group’s community newspapers division, stating that neither Salon Salon, nor the Northern Valley Suburbanite was responsible for the view expressed in the ad. "Suburbanite apologizes for any confusion or inconvenience this may have caused Salon Salon and its customers," the letter reads.
But the apology may not be enough to appease Goldstein, who says he paid $400 for his ad. He said that he believes that Carnevale is "an honest guy" and that the ad was run because of an oversight, and he was pleased that the paper planned on running a retraction of the ad.
"They were as apologetic as possible, but we suffered damages that are irrevocable," said Goldstein, who lives in Old Tappan, and is affiliated with a synagogue in Brooklyn, N.Y. "I told [Carnevale] it’s not good enough. This is right before Chanukah, I don’t need this."
Goldstein said that NJMG would not tell him who ran the ad next to his.
"I am suing to find out," he said. "I am Jewish. My mother is a Holocaust survivor. My family is all from Poland. This hurt our business, and I am suing for damages. I have never been so appalled."
Borg did not return phone calls regarding a possible lawsuit.