Shameless self promotion

(This blog post has been picked up by the Aim Group ( and Inland Press Association ( sites. But hasn’t been posted here .. until now)

Would you spend less than sixty cents a day to know what’s going on in your community?

Most people would. That’s the approximate cost of an average home delivered American newspaper. It costs less than most anything Americans splurge money on. Less than a soda. Less than a hot dog. Less than a bag of chips.

So why aren’t Ameicans making this small investment? Because they’re bombarded, daily, with the message that newspapers are dying. They read about newspapers cutting days of service, cutting staff, cutting pay, and they go elsewhere for their news.

What’s so amazing about this: media companies, the ones that inform the public, have lost the debate on the importance of newspapers. They have let the negative message overtake them, and now they’re playing defense instead of offense.

It’s time to go on the offensive.

Newspaper companies need to be more like PBS. Public broadcasting does a masterful job of telling its users why it’s important. Newspapers need to do the same. We need to list, point by point, all of the good we do a community — and that goes beyond the stories that inform. We need to tell people that we contributed money to local arts groups and support local programs. We need to tell them about the free ad space we give to local non-profits. We need to tell them about the stories we do on boy scouts, the kid with cancer, the triumph over adversity, the stories that describe, in vivid detail, the fabric of community.

And about those stories. We need to tell them what they’ve learned. I’m an avid reader of the New York Times, and on a recent Sunday, I was reminded that the economic downtown in American effects children in Haiti, since their fathers have lost their jobs here and can’t send money back home. I read an indepth piece of he importance of Joe Biden in the Obama administration. And I learned about Sprit Airlines revenue model and the lessons others are learning about it.

Newspapers are not good at shameless self-promotion. But they need to be. Tell people why we matter. Because a strong newspaper is the basis for a string digital presence. Once can’t be a strong without the other.


2 thoughts on “Shameless self promotion

  1. Charles Batchelor says:

    I get odd looks from people when I say newspapers need to do more marketing and self-promotion. Everyone, especially news people, will say, “It’s out there, every day, promoting itself.”

    They are forgetting–or never heard–what I heard the first day in my first journalism class. Propaganda theory is that people remember the information, but they do not remember the source. It’s why Hitler was able to rule and it’s why advertising works (which makes it a good thing–ads pay the bills).

    I ask people, “Who makes tough trucks?” They’ll think for a second, then say, “Ford makes tough trucks!” Then I ask, “Who says Ford makes tough truck?” I’ll get a blank look, then sometimes they’ll smile and say, “Ford.”
    (Which makes a point, at least for me. Just because Ford said it, doesn’t mean it’s not true. I drive a Ford F-150 and I also say Ford makes tough trucks.)

    People who read newspapers are more interesting, have more fun, make more money and are seen as more attractive. Says who? You can say it, or, if you want, quote me. But, Ray’s right. It needs to be said.

  2. Henry M. Lopez says:

    While I don’t agree the reason folks are tuned out of newspapers are because folks are barraged by messages of their demise (I tend to think newspaper companies had major issues with relevancy for the better part of the last decade.)

    I absolutely agree that we need to be making the argument for our role in community life.

    Several of us in our organization have been talking about this issue from multiple angles. We want to be able to highlight our value to folks while making them aware – we’re here, we’re strong and damnit we plan to stay that way.

    We want to be able to say: You knew about ‘story x’ at 12:42 pm yesterday if you followed our Web site or subscribed to our text alerts. You might have learned about it 7 hours later on the evening news. Or learned of ‘story x’ a day later if you follow ‘brand y’, their Web site or their print edition.

    We’re local, we’re fast, we’re reliable.

    Toot away, I say.

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