It’s time: subscribe to your local paper; turn off your ad blocker. We did.
We live in Portland, and a few years back we let our subscription to the local paper, The Oregonian, lapse because we just weren’t reading it regularly.
Then came Coronavirus, and suddenly I found myself checking the OregonLive home page daily, multiple times per day.
It didn’t take long for the penny to drop: we had to support the local journalism the reporters at The Oregonian created with our dollars as well as our attention.
For around $65 we got a three month subscription, which includes two print editions per week (Wednesday and Sunday), as well as 24/7/365 access to the website.
That’s less than a dollar a day for critical news about what our State and Local governments are doing to fight the virus, as well as about how many positive and negative tests and deaths occur here an in next-door-neighbor Washington.
But that’s not all. I also turned off my ad blocker for OregonLive. (It was on by default on the Cliqz browser I primarily use, for my friends in the ad biz whose eyebrows just climbed skyward.)
I just hope that The Oregonian has ads to serve up… so far, it does… but it’s not a sure thing. Here’s why…
Newspapers are fighting two wars at once
At the same time that newspapers — especially local newspapers — are fighting to create the journalism that will serve their communities, they are also fighting another war: getting advertisers to unblock the news.
It’s ironic because during this greatest disruption to our society in a century (since the so-called Spanish Flu of 1918) there has never been more attention trained on the news but newspapers are having trouble turning a profit on that attention.
Professionally, I’m the editor in chief of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), and we’ve been calling on our brand and agency friends to be more thoughtful about how they choose to advertise on news sites.
Conventionally, many advertisers practice “keyword blocking” to prevent their ads from appearing next to grim or negative news. The classic example is that no airline wants to have its ad appear next to a story about a plane crash. Not only is that scenario unlikely (there were only 20 fatal plane crashes worldwide in 2019), but at this historic moment advertisers need to see the bigger society-wide…