I just spent a few days in Miami with my wife. It’s a nice place, though there is a Holiday Inn restaurant that desperately needs a visit from Gordon Ramsay.
Whenever we travel, I always try to pick up alternative newspapers in whatever cities we go to. It’s always a hit-or-miss sort of thing. Sometimes you find something that is truly alternative, with political and social views that won’t be found in what so many of like to sneeringly refer to as the “mainstream media,” and sometimes you get entertainment rags that try to pass themselves off as somehow being alternative.
One thing that most, if not all, of these papers have in common is their advertising base. When you look through them, you see that ads from casinos, escort services, massage parlors and strip clubs are just as prominent as ads for clothing stores, medical centers, or any other mainstream business.
It’s a fact of life. A paper needs ads to survive.
In Arkansas, I have noticed that readers will sometimes take umbrage if they find an ad that they find offensive, be it for a casino, massage parlor, or “gentleman’s” club. Letters to the Editor will emerge, taking the paper to task for letting down the readers (and the standards of the paper in question) by accepting such ads.
When I was editor of the Ozark Gazette, there was a small boycott attempted once, because we accepted an ad from a local gentleman’s club. Years earlier, Grapvine readers were aghast that they accepted an ad from a cigarette company. Pressure from readers forced them to drop the ad in question.
Rarely, if ever, does anyone write and say, “Hey, I’m sorry that you needed to take that ad so that you could print the paper. Let me write you a check so you won’t feel the loss of that ad in upcoming issues.”
For some people, better a paper should wither and die than it accept ads from a source that they find unacceptable. And who would benefit from that - other than the paper’s direct competition?
The readers certainly wouldn’t. True, a lot of folk get their news from the magical entity known as the Internet - where you are reading this right now - but many don’t. They pick up those alternative papers and discover things they never knew before. It’s vital for a community that those papers are on the street.
Sometimes the price of keeping your paper on the street is accepting ads that some may feel are just not their cup of tea. It’s how they survive, and keep bringing news to people. And that’s what counts, I think.
Because Tea and Crumpet Societies don’t buy all that many ads, you know.