By Lethbridge Herald Opinion on February 3, 2021.
It was with great disappointment that The Herald had to report this past week that our local elected city council voted to reduce advertising support for the newspaper.
We made a strong case. We presented council with different aspects of how the newspaper intersects with the community as a key supporter of local non-profit organizations, how we are an important social influencer, how there is a great deal of value in print media advertising in reaching specific demographics, how we act as an important historic chronicle of community life, and how our longevity in the community has been sustained by the support of our loyal readers.
We presented council with testimonials of support for their local newspaper from a wide range of Lethbridge society. We spoke to council about the uncertain times the industry faces right now as a result of COVID-19, and the potential serious financial impacts of its decision on the newspaper, but it wasn’t enough.
For most councillors, despite protestations otherwise by some, the decision came down to dollars and cents, and how the City could continue to give special considerations to developers by making it cheaper for them to put important public notices in the paper with less information in them, and at the same time get rid of an embarrassing situation where city staff had sometime, somewhere along the line, without consulting council, decided to throw taxpayer money in to subsidize print media ads for those seeking to do business and make profit in Lethbridge.
Those are the facts as they stand, and there is no blame for developers in trying to do business and build great ventures in the City of Lethbridge.
We all want them to succeed for the betterment of the financial position of the community as a whole. They pay what they are told to pay to advertise, and, on the other side, The Herald sends out a bill which is paid to us by the City. We, too, trying to make a profit and support a private business in the community- albeit one with social value beyond the ordinary.
We will continue to do what we do to put the best product out to the community we can. We have great reporters. We have a strong management team. And we have loyal readers who do choose to support their local newspaper even when their elected representatives do not.
We appreciate everybody who stood with us and supported us vocally and publicly, who sent in emails, who phoned in, to express their discontent with council’s decision.
Some have called the newspaper the living memory of our community stretching back over 120 years – and, unlike some other so-called news mediums of the internet age, we focus on accuracy, validity and depth. It takes effort to do what we do and it is what sets us apart.
We will not forget those who supported us, and spoke up for us, during these past few months. You have our gratitude.