OTHER VOICES: How does local business support local news?

What did you pay to read this article today?

Your answer might be nothing – and on the surface, you’re right. Whether you’re reading it in print, on a laptop or on a smartphone, there’s no cost to access our journalism.

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But really, you have paid for this article – through your attention. More specifically, through the attention you’re paying not to these words, but to the advertising you’re seeing around them, on this page or 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 or to encourage you to call them or visit their website, 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, from social media to other internet websites to 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 that 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 this screen are building community by supporting the mission of local news. Their support makes it possible for us to cover what’s going on at City Hall, in your kids’ school, with your local sports team, in the courts and 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.

Which 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 XX 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 site, the better they do, and the more they’ll be able to do for you –more products, better hours, and improved service. They’ll also be in a position to do even more local advertising, which supports us and ensures you have more high-quality, award-winning local news.

Thanks for your attention to these words, and for your support of the local businesses who make them possible.

Tim Shoults is the Vice-President of the BC and Yukon Community NewsMedia Association and Vice-President, Content and Audience Development for Glacier Media.

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