May 17th, 2024

‘Shop local’ mantra should include advertising

By Lethbridge Herald on December 11, 2021.

Al Beeber
Lethbridge Herald

Christmas season is upon us and after nearly two years of dealing with COVID-19, local  businesses are gearing up for the shopping season.

Residents in Lethbridge – and elsewhere  – are always being implored to shop locally and support our neighbours and their families instead of taking our money elsewhere.

This was reiterated Monday at the City Hall Christmas tree lighting by representatives of the local Chamber of Commerce and Downtown BRZ. 

But the concept of “shop local” should also include local newspapers in our country which were hit hard long before the pandemic started by businesses shopping elsewhere – specifically the Internet for their advertising needs. 

Being a person who was laid off last year for six months because of the impact COVID-19 had on our advertising revenue and who knows many Canadian journalists never came back to work because of the decline in business, I have a little problem with the “shop local” philosophy.

And the problem is hypocrisy. All media have been impacted as businesses, small and large alike, have taken their advertising dollars to social media, supporting companies like Facebook and Google that have absolutely no presence in Lethbridge.

Google and Facebook staff don’t shop at Lethbridge stores, they don’t pay Lethbridge taxes and their kids don’t attend Lethbridge schools or play hockey and basketball beside Lethbridge kids. 

But local businesses advertise with these companies at the expense of  The Herald and other local media outlets who do pay taxes here, whose staff do live here and whose kids do go to school here and play sports together here. 

We are neighbours with local businesses and what do we get? Press releases asking us to cover their events? 

Yup, we’ve gotten those in spades over the years and those businesses should be reciprocating by advertising with us.

 If these businesses aren’t advertising locally, they can’t with a straight face expect residents to support them because we are their neighbours both in business and in our residential areas.

A strong local media is essential for democracy to function: we here cover all the local events, we write on politics, policing, school and health issues, sports, absolutely everything. 

Do Google and Facebook  send staff to attend local events? No, they don’t. And they shouldn’t be supported with local advertising dollars at the expense of Lethbridge media.

Our papers at Christmas used to be massive with as many as 60 pages on Saturdays and almost as many on Fridays during the holiday season and I laid out a lot of them. In recent years, the Christmas advertising has dwindled but we are supposed to support businesses who don’t support us, choosing Google and Facebook instead. Seriously?

 We have a newsroom of six people now; when I started at the Herald we had close to four times that number of staffers. And we are still managing to put out a paper thanks to those Lethbridge businesses that do keep advertising with us here. Those are the local businesses I’m inclined to support because they understand and appreciate the importance and value of local media. 

By shopping at downtown businesses that don’t advertise here, I’m telling my employer our work at The Herald has no value to our community and our economy. So are my colleagues at other media outlets. 

That work does have enormous value, partly because we contribute to the local economy. Facebook and Google staff don’t.

Perhaps if some businesses had advertised locally, maybe they would have survived the pandemic better  – the benefits of advertising with us could have easily been explained by one of our talented sales consultants. But no, advertising money was and is still being spent at Google and Facebook instead of here in the heart of downtown Lethbridge at The Herald – a local business itself!

Business owners who want support from Lethbridge residents need to support their own, as well and that includes local media. I’m sure our sales staff are ready and willing to help members of the Chamber and Downtown BRZ with all of their advertising needs. We’re right here and our doors are open. Just like theirs.

If the Chamber and Downtown BRZ are going to promote the concept of “shop local”  like they did Monday to Lethbridge media members whose jobs rely on local advertising, they need out of fairness to formally encourage their members to advertise locally.

Without advertising, no media outlet would have been able to cover on Monday what was essentially the launch of an advertising campaign, a campaign that got the Chamber and BRZ free publicity from media outlets who had to pay their staff to be there. And that pay comes from advertising revenues.

Were Google and Facebook staff at City Hall on Monday with cameras, recorders and notepads? No, they weren’t. Something to think about.

JOHNNY REID UPDATE: Ron Sakamoto tells me a third Johnny Reid show will be staged at the Yates Centre on April. 18 after the first two sold out. Tickets go on sale Dec. 17. 

The Yates dates were among 30 Reid has already sold out on his upcoming cross-country tour.

Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter.

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So true. So many people when they have an issue will say “Oh lets write a letter to the editor”. I can’t help but think what would they do if there was no local paper? I also wonder how many of them have no herald subscription. Too many don’t I bet. On twitter people will complain about flyers. I say how local businesses and the herald need those advertising dollars to support itself.
Too many people take the herald for granted. Sad , yes especially for democracy.