What did you pay to read this column today?
Your answer might be, “Nothing” — and on the surface, you’re right.
Whether you are reading it in print, on a laptop or on a smartphone, there is no cost to access our journalism.
But really, you have paid for this column — through your attention. More specifically, through the attention you’re paying not to these words, but to the advertising you’re seeing around them, in this newspaper or on a screen.
Our advertisers — the people who pay the salaries of everyone who works here — pay us for your attention, to highlight their products and services, to build their brands, to bring you into the store for their sale this week, to encourage you to call them or visit their website or to attend their concert or event.
They do this because advertising in local newspapers and local news websites continues to be a powerful and cost-effective marketing platform – and that’s because of your trust in us.
According to research conducted by our national association, News Media Canada, Canadians trust ads they see in newspapers and on their affiliated websites more than the ads in any other medium, including social media, other internet websites, radio and TV.
In a world drowning in increasingly dubious advertising messages on what seems like every surface, that trust in advertising is vital.
But there’s got to be more to it than just results.
After all, local merchants can reach local customers with greater precision than anyone thought possible a few years ago through a few clicks of a mouse.
Enough ads on less trustworthy sites can be bought cheaply enough to have a similar result to what we can do.
The difference — the thing a Google ad or a social-media post can’t do — is in building up your community.
The advertisers you see in these pages or on the KTW website are building community by supporting the mission of local news. Their support makes it possible for us to cover city hall, your kids’ school, our local sports team, the courts and the happenings on your street.
They make it possible for us to build up our community by supporting hundreds of local organizations and events with hundreds of thousands of dollars of in-kind advertising support and publicity each year.
This means the best way you can support us is by supporting them.
We’re partnering with News Media Canada to create a Proud Advertiser program to help highlight these community-minded businesses that are supporting local news with their marketing dollars.
Take a look at the ad on page A18 of today’s edition and please consider paying the advertisers you see there a visit this coming week. Some of them may be regular stops for you already; some may be places you’ve never visited before. Either way, when you do go to see them, please let them know what brought you in — their support for the local news you enjoy.
This isn’t just helping us — it’s helping yourself.
Your support creates a virtuous circle: the more you support those local businesses you see in our pages and on our website, the better they do and the more they’ll be able to do for you — more products, better hours, and improved service — and for your community, with even more support for local teams, events and charitable causes.
Thanks for your attention to these words and for your support of local businesses who make them possible.
Tim Shoults is vice-president of the BC and Yukon Community NewsMedia Association and operations manager of Aberdeen Publishing.