A Mississippi lawsuit could set a new standard for a newspaper industry that has endured some of the worst economic times in years, while at the same time bringing more scrutiny to the paper business.
The lawsuit, filed in a Mississippi county court, alleges that The Mississippi Daily News and other publications have made false and misleading claims about the cost of printing paper.
The paper’s legal team argues that the allegations are frivolous and that the plaintiff’s claims are not supported by the facts and evidence, the Associated Press reported.
The Mississippi Tribune Company is also suing the newspapers, which are owned by the same parent company as The New York Times Co. The Times declined to comment.
The judge overseeing the case said the claims could not be proven without evidence that a newspaper would make a significant contribution to the economy.
“A paper is a tool for society to gather information about the world and to tell people what they need to know,” Judge Paul M. Williams Jr. told reporters during a hearing Thursday.
“The only thing that matters to a newspaper is the ability to tell the story.”
The lawsuit seeks to stop the publication of an article that said the paper would cost more than $8 million to print.
The article was published online in July and the Daily News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A similar lawsuit was filed in December, and the case is still pending.
The papers reported a slight rise in traffic for The Daily News in June after the newspaper started a $2 million advertising campaign.
The company is trying to make up for the lost revenue by raising the price of its newspaper, which is owned by News Corp. The Daily Mail Group, which owns The Daily Telegraph, The New Statesman and the Financial Times, also is suing the papers.
The two companies say the papers are making false and fraudulent statements about the paper’s costs, and that they have defrauded customers.