AOPA President Craig Fuller Thursday criticized AVweb‘s coverage of salaries and finances at the association that appeared in early November, which he attacked as “flat out wrong.” In his blog on the AOPA web site, Fuller said “we’ve responded in detail and in writing to numerous questions and spent two hours on the phone with the group’s publisher, editor, and chief operating officer.” Fuller complained that AVweb “had made no acknowledgment of their error.” However, AVweb Publisher Timothy Cole said Friday that AVweb disagrees with AOPA’s claims.
At issue is a story AVweb published on November 11th reporting salaries for AOPA’s top managers shown on the association’s public tax filings. The data for the story was taken directly from AOPA’s publicly filed IRS forms. After a phone conference with Fuller and CFO Roger Myers the day the story appeared, AVweb offered to immediately post AOPA’s challenge, but Fuller declined, telling AVweb at the time that the story “was very damaging.” Because Fuller was in the midst of AOPA Summit, AVweb accommodated his request to pull the story and do follow up interviews to answer detailed questions about the association’s finances later.
Although AVweb requested an interview prior to the original story appearing in early November, Fuller declined this request. In addition, AOPA answered only four of a list of 12 detailed questions we submitted prior to publication. In an extensive and at times contentious phone conference on Wednesday, Fuller illuminated details about budget, the association’s direction and how its related businesses compete with other businesses in the aviation sector. Cole said the call ended with an assurance by AVweb that we would delay publication of any story until we had ensured it was accurate and in context. Fuller said he encouraged that.
“Thursday’s blog by Fuller was a surprise and a disappointment,” Cole said. “AVweb‘s interest from the outset has been to provide accurate information to our readers and that’s why we agreed to delay publication of stories on AOPA finances until we could confirm additional details,” Cole said. “Despite the tone of Fuller’s blog we are hopeful the spirit of cooperation that began this process will be sustained. We’re AOPA members, too, and we think members have a right to know how their money is being spent.” AVweb expects to publish its story next week.
To read Fuller’s blog, click here.