Monday, November 24, 2008

Is advertising dead?

I read with interest this post on Ari Herzog's blog, about advertising and newspapers.

I want to add my 2 cents into this, because I have become a victim of this whole death spiral.

If the publications for which I work (dwindling every day) don't get their advertising dollars, I have to wait to get paid.

And here is the value of having a long-term relationship with a bank- Bank of America, for all it's a corporate giant, accepts my situation when they call me about my overdue payments on my credit card.

"I'll pay you when I get paid," I tell the caller - after I remind them of my 21-year relationship with them (through previous incarnations, starting with BayBank).

You have to wonder, with the Globe cutting 24 pages from its print edition and laying people off, that Globe North recently hired 3 full-time reporters, thus rendering its freelancers (starting with me, as the most recent) redundant.

I don't know who newspapers are trying to pander to these days, but I suspect it's young people who are reading blogs and other news sources on line. These attempts by newspapers and magazines to appeal to an attention deficit crowd (less meat, more encapsulated news bites) makes me nervous.

It would make more sense, I think, to change the writing style to a less dry, more emotional form. When I say emotional, I mean convey the emotion, not have the reporter be emotional. And include blogs, more personal accounts, and things of that nature.

It's fine to write about our landfill, but of what value is a cold, hard account without the emotion that the whole situation has generated? What about our health director, who spends more time than he should (or even has) dealing with this issue? What about that YouTube video of the mayor of Everett making not-so-nice comments about Newburyport?

This, to me, is hot stuff ... but you don't see it anywhere.

When I wrote that story about the A-frame signs for Globe North, two people told me (in essence) that it was too dry, too lacking in emotion. Well, one emotional part (the owner of Roca's saying she'd parade up and down State St. with the sign on her back, if necessary) was excised from the story.

People want reality, they want emotion, they want to connect. That's why Sarah Palin was so effective. If you trotted someone like that up as the poster person for the landfill, or for the debt exclusion, more people would become emotionally involved with the issue.

As the former editor of a local publication wrote to me a few months ago, people don't want to read about boards and commissions and what they did - they want to know who are on the boards, what was the effect of their decision on real people ... and so on.

Substance always wins the day.

I find that editors, for the most part, are resistant to this.

Weekly newspapers are doing better economically (or so I've heard) because they provide substance, as opposed to quick news hits and briefings.

I don't think people are not paying attention to advertising - they just aren't reading the content with which the advertising is appearing.

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