Choice of Newspaper Raises Questions About Widest Circulation

From: USADNEWS Volume VI, Issue 3

One of the primary requirements for filing a labor certification application is to advertise the open position in two Sunday editions of the newspaper of general circulation in the area of intended employment. The term “general circulation” can seem vague and sometimes lead to confusion about which publication to use, especially when there is no Sunday edition that publishes in the immediate area where the position is located.

Section 656.17(e)(i)(B)(2) provides that when “the job opportunity is located in a rural area of intended employment that does not have a newspaper with a Sunday edition, the employer may use the edition with the widest circulation in the area of intended employment.” The “area of intended employment” is later defined in section 656.3 as “the area within normal commuting distance of the place (address) of intended employment.”

A recent case decided by the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) debated the interpretation of that provision. In the Matter of Michigan Technological University, the Employer advertised in the Green Bay Press Gazette for a position based in Houghton, MI. The Certifying Officer (CO) denied the application because the Press Gazette is located over 200 miles away from Houghton in Green Bay, WI. The Employer requested a reconsideration based on the fact that the main paper in Houghton, the Daily Mining Gazette, does not have a Sunday paper. They argued that the Press Gazette should be acceptable because Green Bay is the closest metropolitan area with a Sunday circulation of 86,000 compared to a daily circulation for the Houghton paper of only 10,500.

The point of contention is the interpretation of what is meant by “widest circulation” and “area of intended employment.” BALCA ultimately upheld the CO’s denial and determined that the Employer had “misinterpreted the current regulation,” which specifically mentions “the area of intended employment.” Therefore, even though the Green Bay Press Gazette may have had wider circulation figures, the circulation was not concentrated in the area where the position was located. BALCA ruled that, according to the regulations in 656.17(e)(i)(B)(2), the Employer should have advertised the position in the local Houghton paper even though it did not publish on Sunday.

BALCA’s finding makes the choice of a newspaper a little more complicated when a major Sunday paper is not as readily identifiable as it is in cities like Houston or New York. When advertising for a position in a rural area, the employer must determine whether the Sunday newspaper in the closest metropolitan area also maintains the widest circulation in the area of employment, or if a local paper would in fact be more appropriate. In these cases, the focus is not so much on the highest circulation, but on where the circulation is concentrated. USADWEB can help you to research publications and provide any circulation data you might require in order to make an informed publication choice.