January 18th, 2021

City urged to support local newspaper


By Letter to the Editor on November 25, 2020.

Hello Mayor Spearman,
You don’t often hear from me but I think you (and council) are doing a fantastic job of leading the city! You have not shied away from difficult decisions for the greater good. I know that’s a thankless task some days, so I want to first say THANK YOU for all you do for us.
One of those difficult decisions is knowing what local services are essential and which are just nice to have. I believe strongly that diverse community media is critical.
We are fortunate to have local TV and radio stations but they are largely entertainment focused rather than news focused. The Lethbridge Herald, however, has a wealth of local news which I pore over and share with others. The City needs to remain a part of that.
You’re probably thinking, “We WILL be a part of the news anyway so why pay more for print space?” Two reasons: Firstly, if you want to continue to get first-section access, e.g. today’s story on condo recycling, you need to continue to be a leading advertiser.
This isn’t blackmail, it’s simple economics. We’ve already seen a proliferation of front-page advertising which will inevitably creep further into the paper as private business makes more demands for their dollars.
Secondly, a city without a local newspaper is like a face without a smile. Sure, we can still function, but with much less engagement and accessibility. By the way, I’m one of those residents who prefers not to go online for information and I’m not even close to being a senior ­čÖé
So please support our local paper by continuing to advertise in it and advocating for it. It’s just as necessary to our culture as a museum, arts centre or recreation centre.
Sincerely,
Alice Matisz
Lethbridge

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Dennis Bremner

Good points Alice. One of the reasons that local papers tend to die a painful death is their propensity to be “all encompassing” with their news. Local papers want to give the impression they are “worldly” when they are not. So what you get is great local news, and 2 day old world news.
Two day old news compared to what? The internet of course, so generally the news you see that is outside of Alberta, and even some within Alberta is 2 days old. Now, most papers will say the all encompassing news is needed. I think that’s where they make their mistake. It does not take much for people to realize that more often than not, they are reading old news and they begin to question why they have the paper delivered.
Local papers use the 2 day old news as a page filler to make the paper look big enough to buy. But the actuality is, the dilution by this older news is what is causing their problem.
If I want to find out what is happening on the world stage, what DOES NOT come to mind is “consult Lethbridge Herald”!
So this tends to end up being a bit of a mugs game. The paper needs fillers to create an actual paper. The fillers give “modern man/woman” the impression they are paying for 2 day old news, and the downward spiral begins.
So how do you solve the problem? Its a bit of a chicken an egg but you have to go this route or you are destined for death. First, you flush out all the “perceived” old news. Any older news can be inserted and spun by local reporters into an opinion piece. Opinion pieces create interest because their are always two sides of a story. Does no one at Lethbridge Herald have an opinion on Donald Trumps defeat? Or, Biden’s Presidency? Does no one have opinion on the SCS closure? Council doing their job? LAPS doing theirs?
If a paper decides to be neutral, and only prints neutral info, it becomes stale and, a has been, in short order.
Fence straddlers do not create a paper, just as one sided political rags do not create a paper. Papers have to create local news, and create opinions on that news. Papers have to employ reporters with actual opinion. The days of telling a story and allowing the story to stand on its merits has become defunct in todays society because most people WANT to see an opinion.
Supporting a city by being neutral on every aspect of its life does not make you a newspaper. I miss the days of reporters actually working for a living as opposed to just reporting the news in type form or on the airways. I am not a longtime Lethbridge person so do not fully understand its history or why it does things today. But to give you an example, was buying the stupid airport a smart idea? Certainly reading this paper I could not find a Pro’s vs Cons article unless it was written by someone outside the paper?
Supporting a city does not mean you support the Mayor, or the Council, or the local MP or MLA, it means you give credit where credit is due, and laying it on when credit is not due!
If I wanted to become a popular mayor all I would have to do is spend everyone else’s money until it ran out, and not raise taxes the year I seek re-election, perhaps even take a pay cut to show how concerned I am about the bottom line.
We have many things facing Lethbridge as challenges, but to be honest I have never seen one of your reporters actually profess a staunch opinion (and be able to defend it) on literally any topic. So for as long as you appear to straddle under the guise of just bringing the news, then local papers are doomed.
When the commentary section of the paper is the only place to get an opinion, one tends to wonder why they are reading the paper at all.
Opinion of two polar opposite reporters adds interest, interest adds subscriptions, subscriptions create increased circulation, increased circulation creates ad revenue. Ads create a larger paper, a larger paper is sustainable.
My advice? Go out and get a non political associated Howard Stern and a Rush Limbault on staff and put some actual opinion in your paper. The days of just reporting the news is over because most young people cannot form an opinion unless they know how many likes each opinion gets, then they go with the largest group. And, me making that statement creates the needed addrenalin pump for people to respond. Controversy is not a bad thing for a paper, bias is!

I could start a newspaper today and put you out of business by this time next year just by sticking to an opinion that creates controversy in the city. The rebuttles would be long, and interesting. Which raises my last point, drop the 400 word max for submissions because you are cutting your own throat by doing so!

Last edited 1 month ago by Dennis Bremner
Dennis Bremner

pseu┬Ědo┬Ěnym

  1. a fictitious name, especially one used by an author.

Lethbridge Herald employ two authors under pseudonyms with opposing views of the direction of this city, and let them loose. It will double your subscriptions in less than a year.
If you do get money from Council, remember its to support a local paper, its not to support their opinion.
Time for a shake up in the ranks, Rupert Murdoch did not make his billions by employing people that have no opinion! One could say he only hired people with HIS opinion, but at least his reporters have one and are given free rein. Try to remain unbias and let two opinions to exist simultaneously and suddenly you will be a real paper. Do so and you will increase readership by 100% in a year or less.
Oh, and triple the size of your commentary section, you obviously have no idea that it drives people to buy the paper to read the “next stupid comment or next brilliant one”

Last edited 1 month ago by Dennis Bremner
Resolute

And…what about the citizens that do not live in, or even access, online media. Like 90% of those over 60.
Sounds like the City’s arbitrary move of trash pickup to the car-crowded front curbs of 50 or 100 year old communities that have had problem-free alley garbage pickup…since they were built! Where is the cost or safety benefit study to give some credibility to that move? Just another Sanchez move, like our curbside and MRF white elephants.
Does City Hall seem determined to bully and antagonize its citizens to you?

Montreal13

Dennis, I have seen more signs of the herald presenting both sides and their editorials being more outspoken. Many herald staff seek jobs at city hall,a number of examples where this has happened. One ,noteable recent one. No surprise there. Now, perhaps they can be a paper again ,at least for awhile and not have to suck up to the city?

Montreal13

Over the years I remember a few examples where herald staff stuck their neck out to inform on a city issue – to the service of the community.



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