June 24th, 2024

Newspapers need government lifeline

By Lethbridge Herald on May 31, 2024.

Al Beeber – managing editor

Thanks to the changing world around us, Canadian newsrooms have seen staff numbers dwindle over the years as more companies have turned to social media to do their advertising.

We in the newspaper industry have been hit particularly hard and it’s frustrating because unlike television and radio we can give more indepth coverage to the issues and events impacting our communities.

But with fewer staff because advertising revenues can’t support the numbers of journalists that newsrooms were once blessed with, we are challenged to provide the type of broad, balanced coverage our communities expect and deserve.

When I say ‘balanced,’ I don’t mean giving credence to conspiracy theories that are spouted on social media channels, or allowing false information to be spread because someone has an issue with science or medicine.

In Alberta, balance is hard to achieve with the extremism that has taken root here. But we do our best to achieve it. And we at The Herald do our best to cover our community even though I am down to two full-time reporters and two Local Journalism Initiative positions.

One of those positions I’m proud to say is being filled by Lethbridge College graduate and Troy Reeb Scholarship winner Justin Sibbet who did superb work for us covering a range of assignments last summer. Sibbet is a huge talent and I’m honoured to have him  join Delon Shurtz, Alexandra Pulido-Guzman and I as we cover this diverse and growing city.

Late this week, we also hired Alexandra Noad, a classmate of Sibbet’s, to fill an LJI position. 

We just had our LJI positions re-approved by the federal government which will give us even more opportunity to cover our community more thoroughly. One of those streams is for the Homelessness/Crime beat and the other for Indigenous stories.

 The LJI positions are much needed by our industry due to the loss of advertising revenues, those revenues which should be supporting a local company instead of a multi-national social media conglomerate whose staff don’t live and pay taxes in our community.

No media outlet can cover their communities without support from the local business base. Whether in cities or small towns, all media need support from local business to survive and do our jobs.

But some expect us at The Herald to cover their events and stories when they advertise on radio or television, which cannot and don’t provide the same indepth coverage we can and do. 

I don’t understand the mindset of that. Or the audacity of someone who is paying another media outlet to promote their product or service but expects us to give them space for free. 

That tells me our product has no value to them which is insulting. And if that’s the case, why should we bother with them?

That situation came up recently when I told one public relations person that I had issues doing a story on a longstanding local business that was changing hands when the parent company hasn’t advertised with us for years. In fact, I just heard an ad of theirs on local radio but I don’t see any of their promotions in our pages. 

And this would have been a fantastic story with a great local angle but the parent company chooses to advertise on radio instead of with us which again suggests to me we don’t have any actual value to them. And that’s unfortunate because this is truly a good story, but I guess in the minds of the parent company not good enough to merit financial support of this newspaper. I should point out nobody I know has heard this particular radio station do a story on this business. Go figure.

Another matter arose this week when we were invited to cover a media announcement for an arts event coming up. That organization told our advertising department it doesn’t have a print advertising budget but it still wants us to devote space to cover their announcement. 

We’ve had a strong relationship with the arts over the years and can give arts organizations far better coverage than the 30-second clip residents may see or hear on TV or radio. One paper will reach at least four other readers who can also see our coverage in stores, on the tables of restaurants and a myriad of other places, giving more opportunity for exposure and to sell tickets.

But we’re expected to pay a reporter to support this organization when it won’t support us. And our market is their audience. 

How much coverage will it get from its preferred advertising medium? 

Until mindsets change and local companies start supporting us, Canada’s newspapers are going to be in the situation where we need government support to continue serving our communities. 

But that support doesn’t mean – as some have erroneously suggested – that we’re doing the federal government’s bidding.

We are completely independent from any influence by Ottawa. They simply provide the funding which enables us to do our job. In return for that funding, we give them six-month updates on what our LJI reporters are achieving on their beats. Anyone who thinks there is something nefarious behind this needs to take a reality check because there isn’t anything. 

The federal government is simply giving us a much-needed lifeline, one which I’m so glad we have because it allows us to better serve our community. And hopefully  attract some of that lost advertising which needs to stay local for newspapers to survive.

And this country needs local newspapers which repeatedly and truthfully we have stated on these pages provide the type of insightful and well-rounded coverage that no other media outlets – including social media – can or do.

Support local means supporting us and I’m glad the federal government acknowledges that and is providing us with its support. 

We deserve that support from local businesses and organizations as well.

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In Alberta, balance is hard to achieve with the extremism that has taken root here

Please elaborate what type of extremism you are declaring.



old school

Interesting that a number of years ago I cancelled my subscription to Lethbridge Herald. I did not appreciate the bias presented . The editor responded to my concerns with little more than “ your opinion- – -“. I was just looking for well rounded unbiased news and reporting on community events.Certain “events” with unacceptable propaganda somehow got centre stage, when they should have been minimized or ignored.

Dennis Bremner

There is a point in your life where you have to say “Maybe its me”?
In search of middle of the road, you have made the paper rudderless. Controversial subjects you won’t touch for fear of raising the wrath of city hall.
You really aren’t publishing city news. In one hand you have the “everyone is a resident” group, and then to ensure no one in the city (residents) know what is going on, you do not publish the deaths of any of our “residents” in Galt Gardens?
So you claim to be unbias, and report the news, but you are selective to protect yourself.
Out of the 130+ deaths from overdosing, how many did you publish? You are so fearful of reporting what is actually happening in this city to Businesses and Residents you have created a non-reality without realizing it.
I do note however remember that when the “Drug Problem” appeared in your backyard (someone setting fires and crapping in your entrance way), you gave it full coverage deciding to get as indignant as you should have!
You do not report what is “happening” in this city, you report what you approve of happening in this city. The filter you apply strokes those who believe destruction of society is just the cost of Pearly Gate entry. I have yet to see an article that states the damage done to this city by the present group, take off your blinders. You are supposed to tell it like it is!
This is not an “us against them”, you either “report the facts” or you go the way of the Dodo bird.
I can remember meeting you in the entrance of the City Hall, Al. I asked why I was not being published
You said I can’t publish the stuff you right, its to offensive! It was the truth, and you knew it was the truth! But, you did not want to offend anyone “with the truth”, is that the roll of a newspaper? To straddle the “woke/reality fence? How is that workin for ya?

Last edited 19 days ago by Dennis Bremner

“”You said I can’t publish the stuff you right, its to offensive! It was the truth, and you knew it was the truth! But, you did not want to offend anyone “with the truth”, is that the roll of a newspaper? To straddle the “woke/reality fence? How is that workin for ya?””

‘right’? ‘roll’? lol
Maybe if you used spellcheck, the stuff you right might fit the roll of the newspaper.
Maybe it’s your ‘old-man-screaming-at-the-sky’ self-righteous truth crap we’re all sick of…but I digress.

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