I would like to come to the defence of our actions with the recent contract proposal and denial between the Claresholm Local Press and the Town of Claresholm.
Very first and foremost – let me be very clear. Our proposal was for a contract for services and not, and I stress – not a request for a subsidy to our business!
We were proposing a three-year contract to provide the taxpayers of Claresholm all access to most of the happenings in Claresholm. This would include: coverage of all town council meetings and open houses, by way of news coverage by Local Press staff; all development notices and all bylaw changes, by way of required advertising. As well the Town of Claresholm runs a half page ad each week and a full page ad once every month with some very important information regarding town boards, road closures and much, much more. Besides all this important town of Claresholm information, each “subscriber” would receive all the latest happenings with our sports teams, info regarding all our local and vital volunteer organizations and a huge variety of stories about the interesting and talented people in town. They would see all the goods and services the town has to offer, by way of local business advertising. They would get advance notice of all the fun and interesting activities in town, by way of the advertising in the coming events and so much more.
For anyone to think that the town would be subsidizing this when we offered this service for half price of our normal subscription rate – can’t do math very well. Yes – we would be getting more potential readers – but the increase in number of subscriptions would not make up for the loss in revenue per subscription. As well – we would experience an increase in our printing and postage bills to meet the increased demand. In the end, this would not guarantee an increase in advertising – but that would be our hope.
I would suggest that what this would do is – benefit every citizen (taxpayer) by way of general information, every business owner if he/she chose to advertise with greater exposure, every volunteer organization the benefit of possible better participation in their events and the town itself by way of reaching out. Another benefit to the reader/taxpayer is that they would not have to worry about coming in to renew their subscription every year – this would happen automatically. How the town would deal with covering this expense of course would be up to the town. Perhaps they would tack on $1.60 per week to recoup the cost – or they would allow for this in their yearly communication budget.
Once again to address “subsidizing a business”. What we were proposing – is offering a communication service at a discounted rate. No different than a local contractor offering services to pour sidewalks. A local gas station offering to provide the town with all their gas. A local accounting firm offering the service of doing the yearly town audit. The list goes on and on of local businesses who provide services to the town.
It is no secret that the newspaper business has many challenges ahead to its very survival as a lucrative business. But please do not confuse weekly community newspapers with the large daily newspapers. We still offer a needed service to the town and because we are independently owned and operated and our staff live in Claresholm – we have a vested interest in our community. Every person in our office has been involved in local activities and organizations.
It is also very apparent that many small businesses in rural areas as well as our town struggle to survive. It is important to all our well being to be supportive of each other. The community newspaper is just a small link in the chain to our wonderful rural lifestyle and all the benefits that come with living in small town Alberta.
The town council chose not to accept our proposal and we accept that. We are disappointed as we feel it would have been very beneficial to the entire town. We are also very grateful to the town for all its support through advertising and they do recognize our importance to the town. We also recognize that not everyone would be happy to get the newspaper and not happy with the expense to the town, but I would wonder if they would become quite comfortable with it over time.
I stated before that we are not desperate and we do recognize the challenges moving forward. We will continue to do the best we can at providing local news to those who choose to subscribe to the paper and are very grateful for all your support,
Roxanne Thompson, Owner/Publisher,
Claresholm Local Press, Claresholm, Alta.