“Is good news coverage or a good advertising base more important to the survival of the newspaper?”
December 3, 2014
If a newspaper does not have interesting, relevant stories for the readership, it will not survive but if it does not have a lot of advertising it will not pay for itself, the staff and provide an income for the owner. Probably one cannot ‘live’ without the other.
As I mentioned in a post much earlier in this blog (go to writingsmall.wordpress.com), my work on the Borderland Reporter, after a few months on the Gravelbourg Gazette, came abruptly to an end when the owner of both papers skipped town one night. Yes, Don McCahill , unable to get the advertising base that he needed to stay afloat, got someone to help him get the huge printing press onto the back of his truck and rode off in the dark of night. This left the advertising manager and myself scrambling to collect money from those in the southern Saskatchewan communities, including Gravelbourg, who ha d not yet paid for their company advertisements. In this way, we paid ourselves our last two weeks of pay and I returned to Winnipeg.
During my short sojourn as editor/reporter on the Borderland Reporter, I wrote almost all of the articles each week as well as an editorial/column each week. The following editorial , ironically, deals with what is more important — the news stories or advertising — to keep a newspaper going. I guess Don figured it was the advertising.
Here is the piece:
March 23, 1983
by Tanya Lester
In most newspaper businesses, there is a type of “which came first: the chicken or the egg” ongoing debate. This is translated, as far as a newspaper is concerned into the question: “Is good news coverage or a good advertising base more important to the survival of a newspaper?”
Good news coverage means more people will buy or subscribe to the newspaper. If a businessperson knows there are a large number of people reading the newspaper,he or she will be more likely to advertise in the paper because a large number of people will be seeing that ad.
On the other hand, the amount of advertising in each newspaper issue determines how much news can be printed in the paper. Because the advertisements on each page have to cover the costs of production for that page, and should also provide a bit of profit, the number of pages you read each week are determined by the amount of advertising.
To put it simply, then, a newspaper cannot survive without good news coverage as well as a good advertising base. With an extra push on from our competition , at this time, it is most important for the Borderland Reporter to keep and increase its advertising base.
As one businessperson in Rockglen mentioned to me the other day, competition is good. Although I would not agree with her that competition is always good, I do agree that competition in the newspaper business is good because without competition a newspaper often reflects only one viewpoint in its news coverage at the expense of the other sides to a story.
But when a newspaper is only a few months old, it has not had the time to establish a solid advertising base. This is the situation with The Borderland Reporter and competition from a much more established newspaper could easily put it out of business. Then, the competition is gone, isn’t it? If this happened you would have less of a choice as to which newspaper you can read and which newspaper into which you can place your advertising.
I guess, what each one of you who are reading this have to decide is whether you want Coronach and area newspaper to continue. Is the newspaper worth enough to you and the community, for you to advertise in it and even increase your advertising?Is it worth enough to you to subscribe to the paper and to get your friends and neighbours to do the same? Would you miss The Borderland Reporter if it went out of business?
The decision, in a lot of ways, is yours to make.
A couple of other things I would like to mention in my column this week are to do with some of my news coverage. For one things, I referred to George Shain in the article headlined “Chamber to organize parade for fair”. It should have been Glen Shain . Sorry about that!
Also, Barry McLellan let me know about a couple of mistakes I made in the “Kinsmen work is fun” article. For example, the park which the Kinsmen worked on had its material s provided by the town and land ,I believe was by the Sakatchewan Housing Corporation.The Kinsmen won the Ben Casey award for work they did on a partition to the hall. The hall was originally a movie theatre and the Kinsmen did not build it.
It just goes to show, I guess, that nobody’s perfect. I know that we all make mistakes in our jobs.