Ask any community newspaper publisher in the state of Missouri about Walmart, and you’ll likely be met with a furrowed brow and a string of profanities about how the big-box mega-chain doesn’t use weekly community newspapers for paid advertising.
When Wal-Mart opens a new store in a community they offer up a small donation to a local charity to raffle off. Then the local community newspaper gets a request for coverage from Walmart for the charity donation to show off their generosity. But when the request for paid advertising comes from the newspaper, the connection suddenly goes silent.
The same could be said for the way high-dollar campaign consulting firm Dover Strategies is handling community newspapers in Kansas City when it comes to the upcoming KCI ballot initiative. Mark Nevins, Dover’s head honcho, stated in an email to The Northeast News that there would be no ad buy in locally-owned community newspapers (Dos Mundos, The Call, Kansas City Hispanic News, The Globe) for the upcoming KCI vote on November 7th, given financial constraints. The Dog finds that difficult to believe given the campaign’s war chest topped the $1 million mark last week and continues to grow exponentially on a daily basis. Seriously? You banked over a million in cash and you can’t shake loose $5,000 for a print ad buy in locally-owned papers? The Dog might have been born at night but not last night.
That said, given the press releases local news sources have been getting about the Mayor, the City Manager and the Council People attending community meetings and forums on the airport ballot, it’s quite clear Community Newspapers are expected to carry the water for the initiative for free by allocating resources and precious editorial space for these events just like they would a breaking news story. Once again, just like the Walmart scenario outlined above, when the time for the ad buy comes, cue the crickets.
Here’s a note to the folks over at Dover who think Community Newspapers and Community Journalism is dead in this Cowtown. The Community Newspapers noted above are highly respected and often revered in their respective communities and you’d do well to cater to that relationship rather than kicking it to the curb. There’s an old saying: ya don’t anger the guy who buys ink by the barrel. Newspaper readers vote.