Gannett could be facing legal action after the Asbury Park Press used the brand name of a top competitor for local news as part of an ad promoting their digital app.
The ad asks people to “Tap into real-time reporting” – an apparent reference to the TAPinto network of local news websites that rivals – and often dominates – the Asbury Park Press on the coverage of local news.
“This is the surest sign yet that TAPinto is the undisputed leader in providing the original local news coverage New Jersey’s communities need and deserve,” said Michael Shapiro, the owner of TAPinto. “Given the engaged audience we’ve built, it’s no surprise that The Asbury Park Press is trying to TAPinto our success.”
Shapiro said he is sending a cease and desist letter to Gannett objecting to their use of his brand as a component of their digital marketing materials.
This is the latest attempt by struggling New Jersey newspaper chains to diminish the importance of local media who compete with them.
In June, former Star-Ledger publisher Richard Vezza banged online news sites like TAPinto and Patch, which have succeeded at a time when newspapers are reducing the number of reporters and cutting back on hyper-local coverage – like attending council and school board meetings.
“The assumptions that communities that lose their newspapers will get their news online is a total fallacy. The local online news sites in New Jersey are run by newspapers,” Vezza said. “There are other online sites that purport to be local and if you visit them, you can see their coverage is skimpy and spotty at best.”
Vezza made his comments at a State Assembly hearing on legislation that would reduce the obligation of some taxpayer-funded legal advertising that are a lucrative source of revenue for print newspapers.
Paul D’Ambrosio, the editor of the Asbury Park Press, did not immediately respond to a 2:21 PM email seeking comment.