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Hypocrisy Alert! AJC Censors Opinion Piece, Hides Truth

Thursday, November 17, 2005  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Part of Trend which led Newspaper to Lose More Subscribers that any Major Newspaper in the Country, Save One

ATLANTA – In today’s edition, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution used a form of censorship to hide its own hypocrisy. The editorial page ran a lead editorial criticizing Governor Perdue for using tax and other incentives to lure 2,000 new jobs to Georgia – specifically, a significant expansion of Aflac’s operations in Columbus. They called the incentives “corporate welfare.”

The AJC solicited an equal time piece from the Governor’s Office to offer an alternative perspective – a perspective the Governor’s Office provided. The rebuttal pointed out that Cox Enterprises – parent company of the AJC – received millions in property tax incentives to relocate its corporate headquarters to Fulton County. That portion of the equal time piece was ordered deleted by Cynthia Tucker, the paper’s editorial page editor.

“This is a form of censorship and it points out a major problem at the AJC. They are a liberal, blue state paper in the middle of an increasingly conservative red state,” said Dan McLagan, communications director for Governor Perdue. “What’s worse, they see themselves as the arbiters of truth, and in our judgment, eagerly omit facts and opinions which do not fit their world view.”

Whether consciously or subconsciously, Georgians have taken notice. The Newspaper Association of America recently reported that the AJC lost a larger percentage of its subscribers than any major daily newspaper, save one: the San Francisco Chronicle. The AJC lost more subscribers than the scandal-plagued New York Times, more than the Boston Globe. In a six-month period ending in September, 8.73 percent of AJC subscribers dropped subscriptions.

The following is the equal time piece in its entirety with the censored portion in italics.

Unbelievably, the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) is opining against jobs for Georgians. The AJC editorializes today that the state of Georgia should not spend taxpayer dollars to encourage businesses to grow in Georgia. When Cox Enterprises, parent company of the AJC, returns the $6.7 million in Fulton County property tax incentives it received to locate its headquarters in the county, then it will have the credibility to make such judgments.

Incentives are essential to bring and keep successful economic projects to Georgia. In a recent survey, Site Selection magazine, an influential trade publication, found that incentives are in fact the top determinant for companies picking a location.

Incentives are not always financial. They can include workforce training, such as that given by Georgia’s internationally acclaimed Quickstart training program. University research and development partnerships are highly valued, as are local tax abatements. Governor Perdue has put in place strict policies to ensure that if a company receives business assistance and doesn’t live up to its commitments, it doesn’t receive the assistance.

Georgia is considered in consultant circles to be very conservative with incentives. Other states are much more aggressive. What we look for is what every well-run business looks for: return on investment. And we think Aflac, as a longtime, native Georgia company, offers a good return on investment, not only in the way its successes reflect on and filter down economically to the people in the Columbus region, but to the state as a whole.

Since January of 2003, Georgia has announced 436 new business projects, creating 31,975 jobs, investing $5.6 billion dollars worth of investments into Georgia communities. We owe it to the citizens of Georgia to continue this trend, and not to stand by while jobs and economic opportunity slip away to other states.