Don’t get the wrong impression. We weren’t huddled in a back office preparing for the colonoscopy that is an IRS audit. Instead, we just needed to do a little tax planning. Our company has acquired a few businesses this year, and apparently, federal and state law suggests you know how much money you make each year so you can then efficiently grab both ankles and allow said government to take most of what you’ve earned.
To be completely transparent, our business hasn’t had the best of years. Slumps in certain sectors of the economy have definitely hurt us. We’ve also acquired a few new businesses, and they have gone through massive transitions, which take time to implement.
Rob, my CPA, had a different question when we looked through our books. He’s seen our business have mild success in prior years and he wondered, aloud, if the great big world of digital news consumption had finally caught up with us.
The only reason I’m sharing this story with you, our readers, is because I get the same question day after day. I’m also sharing this story because we constantly face the same questions from our advertisers. We walk into a local business, tell them about our community newspapers, and without any real understanding of what they’re saying, their eyes turn white and they recite the ominous chant: “We’re not going to advertise in print anymore. We’re moving our marketing dollars to digital.”
It seems I have this conversation in private all the time; why not have it in public just for one week?
I’ll be the first to admit: I love all things digital. I read breaking news on my computer at work. I read social news (no matter how ludicrous it may seem) on my phone. I read Tweets at stoplights. I play card games on my iPad in airports. Maybe I don’t have the digital addiction some people have to their smart phones, and I certainly am not on a constant quest for narcissistic approval on social media, but I do love the expediency of the digital world.
But I also love newspapers – especially community newspapers like ours – for all the ways that we are so different from the barrage of information you receive through that data plan that gets more and more expensive every year.
I love that newspapers don’t have ad blockers. If you don’t know about ad blockers, they are filters you can install on your computer or phone browsers that eliminate all ads from being seen, and 200 million people use ad blockers every day across the globe.
In my 30 years of reading, writing and publishing newspapers, I have never seen a single person take a pair of scissors and cut all the ads out of a newspaper just so they can read the stories.
I love that ads in newspapers are as important to the content as the stories themselves. In fact, we are the only news medium remaining where people don’t skip the ads. We click the elusive “X” on web pages. We hit fast-forward on the TV. We change the station (or convert to Sirius or Pandora) on the radio. The only time we want to see commercials on any of those mediums is during the Super Bowl. Otherwise, our entire consumption of news and entertainment is spent trying to avoid advertisements – ask Netflix about that business model.
Meanwhile, our readers love the ads as much as they love the stories.
I love newspapers because we don’t have creepy ads that seem to know your every move. True story: A few months ago I wanted to buy my wife a suit for work, and I made the dreaded mistake of searching for women’s suits online, just to see what was out there. For the next three months, every advertisement on every site I visited showed me the latest in women’s business suits. That’s just creepy.
I love newspapers because we are wireless, we don’t require a data plan, and we don’t threaten to shut off your source of news if you don’t give us a credit card.
I love newspapers because, when you pick up a paper and read, you don’t automatically get two spam emails a day pawning products that you’d never buy in a hundred lifetimes.
I love newspapers because we’re the only medium left that allows you to turn everything off, open the pages and sit back to consume news relevant to your daily life. We are the last “lean-back” source of news, and there is absolutely nowhere else you can go in today’s massive news industry and read through pages and pages of information about your very own community.
And I love newspapers most – especially these days – because we were the original social media. We are still a place where people share stories. We are a place where meetings are organized, opinions proffered and photos captioned.
I was stunned to learn this week that Congress gingerly asked Facebook and Twitter to help identify people who may use social media to organize terroristic activities on social media.
Are you kidding me?
I love newspapers because we care about making our communities better through the filter of our editors and reporters who live and work here. Love or hate newspapers, call them liberal bastions of propaganda if you want (we’ve never faced that accusation), but you’ll never find a newspaper in this entire nation that wouldn’t turn over a terrorist or a criminal long before Congress had to ask. Heck, we’d expose them before the next press run.
Trust me, digital has an enormously valuable place in our society. So do local, community newspapers. That’s what I told my CPA.