DC papers agree to pay $25,000 for training

The publisher of six suburban Washington, D.C. newspapers has agreed to stop running classified advertisements which violate provisions of the Fair Housing Act. A February settlement between Journal Newspapers, Inc. and the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington calls for the paper to prohibit customers from placing discriminatory ads.

The publisher agreed to monitor its papers for ads which may inadvertently slip past ad screeners in its advertising department. The agreement also says that Journal Newspapers must pay $25,000 to the Fair Housing Council for employee training.

Several ads used discriminatory language

The Council's federal lawsuit pointed to several ads that ran in Journal papers in 1996. According to the Washington Post, one of the ads sought a "white 40s" to share a home in Fairfax Station. Another ad read "no children" for rental housing near Springfield Mall. Still other ads specified things like "single F (female)" applicants or "Female, Christian preferred."

Karl Spain, the president of the publishing firm did not admit wrongdoing in the case. He told the Washington Post, "We agree with the Fair Housing Council of the importance of fair housing laws." He also said that the publisher saw the situation as "win-win." Because of the Fair Housing Council's training sessions, Spain predicted "another error will never be made."

In addition to the payment for training, Journal Newspapers will provide free advertising to the Fair Housing Council. The ads will run weekly in Journal papers for two years and are worth $300,000.