We do not often respond directly to letters to the editor but in the case of Mr. Perry’s letter, pg. 6 Nov. 23 issue, criticizing our coverage of Coronation news, we found it an appropriate time for the public to hear the other side of the story.
This publisher struggled for several years knowing that the Coronation Review could not be sustained as a viable business if we didn’t move forward. Coronation is my home town. My grandparents homesteaded in the area, my parents farmed and retired to Coronation. I grew up, graduated from the Coronation school, raised my family, continue to run a business and served on the Chamber of Commerce for many years.
The simple answer to Mr. Perry’s letter is economics.
In the newspaper business what matters at the end of the day is having enough advertising revenue to pay the expenses for a reporter to cover events? We would love to have the financial resources to hire more reporters and cover more events.
Revenues from Coronation and area were declining in the 90’s. At the same time our world was expanding outside the borders of our small community.
In the late 90’s, Coronation Farm Equipment was a regular full page advertiser in the Coronation Review but it was looking to expand their marketing ‘reach’.
I was about to lose a major customer!
It was at that time, I chose to continue growing my business evolving into the East Central Alberta (ECA) Review, still keeping my affinity to the Coronation Review. My advertisers needed to ‘reach for growth and survival in the new marketplace’.
The ECA Review fills that niche.
The Web and Facebook are now our competition. In the ever evolving world of newspapers, the ECA Review has grown their web presence and our advertisers now reach an average of 400,000 people a month. That’s not a click on our web home page, that’s a real live person looking at a client’s advertisement on computer or mobile. All ads in the newspaper go online in our Marketplace and are pushed out on seven different platforms.
Now, onto news coverage!
‘Community’ newspapers have always depended heavily on the commitment of people in the community to provide the news. Staffing is always an issue, sometimes I have reporters and writers, and sometimes I don’t.
And there is never enough advertising revenue to cover all the news so an order of priority is established.
Events advertised in the Review obviously have preferential coverage. But it also depends on what staff is available to attend, take pictures and write a story. When we have space, we are happy to include contributed stories and pictures from community members. But the crass reality is advertising revenue dictates the amount of space available for news coverage.
I, too, often wish for the ‘simpler days of old’, but to survive the ECA Review has to adapt and change with the changing times. In fact, the ECA Review is one of a few ‘community’ newspapers in Canada progressively and enthusiastically looking ahead and re-inventing ourselves to remain viable. We’re not fake news, we are proud of our product and we work hard to bring in more advertising to enable us to cover more community events.
Did the ECA Review support the Coronation Elk’s Remembrance Day Service? Yes!
Am I, personally, a member of the Castor Legion? Yes!
Does the Review have to go outside “my” home town to stay viable? You bet!
Does the Review contribute to Coronation economically? You bet!
At any given time, 15 full and part-time employees work at the Review in Coronation and their pay cheques multiply into the community.
The Internet has convinced a lot of people that news is free, but it’s not. Any community who has had their newspapers taken over by a corporate conglomerate soon find aggregated news from afar filling most of their pages. Our pages are primarily filled with local East Central Alberta news.
The old adage, if you are not growing, you are dying, is true. Alas, I and a few other businesses in Coronation recognized that we had to “reach” further afield to grow. As a small business owner, it’s about changing to survive and having enough at the end of the month to pay the bills and have a little left over.
J. Webster, publisher