Why the local paper goes straight into the recycling bin…

I’m trying really hard to not pick on the Cochrane Eagle (particularly the editor UPDATE: Jack is the publisher. I was under the mistaken impression that he was the editor) every Wednesday. It’s proving to be quite the challenge. This week we have the publisher pulling his head out of the sand to check out a “tweet” from the mayor (the mayor was responding to an excellent editorial at the rival Cochrane Times, it’s worth following @trupermcbride if you’re a Bow Valley resident). Yes, the implication is that if the Times is playing the role of the professional, grown up newspaper, then the Eagle must be unprofessional and juvenile. Of course, the mayor didn’t have to go and say that…it’s there every week for all to see.

So, here’s my list of why the local paper(s) go into the recycling bin every week.

A) They’re full of flyers and have more advertising than readable content. I’m not sure if businesses have heard of a little thing called Google, but that’s where I go to search for products and services these days. Not for their business-card sized ads in a pile of newsprint that shows up on my doorstep every Wednesday.

B) BOTH PAPERS TWEET their content, and put it up online the same day. Let’s face it, we increasingly live our lives online. Consuming local news via my twitter feed is more convenient. I can read it at work. I can read it on my phone, ipad, computer. I can stay in touch with the local scene when I’m traveling.

C) Both A and B speak to this reason, but it’s worth pointing out separately. I (and all consumers) now have choice. Choice to easily seek out businesses that provide the products and services we’re looking for, when we want to look for them. We also have the choice to consume media and news in an uninterrupted format. I got to read the editors rambly and unorganized column on the web, without being subjected to any advertising.

So what’s the local, small business in a small town supposed to do? They’ve been advertising in the local paper forever.

My suggestions? Ask your customer. How did you find out about us? How would you like to learn about our products, services, specials, etc.? What format works best to communicate with you? And I’d be taking a hard look at how much that 1/4 page spread in the paper is costing every week and asking “is it worth it?”. You’ll probably be surprised.

I’ve said it before, but I shop at places that I have a relationship with. I know and trust Ralph and Dave at Fountain Tire. Jess and the girls at Java Jamboree know that I like a medium latte. Canadian Tire, is, well, Canadian Tire. I’m sure the relationship there runs all the way back to lawnmower shopping with Dad as a kid…

Check out the UnMarketing book recommendation for a great guide on how to embrace digital and social media and engage with your community, and ultimately your customer.

I’m hoping that next Wednesday I can report on a delightful, focused, relevant and positive editorial (or publisher’s rant) from my favorite local paper (you know, the one that goes in the bin straight away… :)). I’ll keep you posted!


  1. Hi Jeff –
    I have found it useful to read both Local Newspapers in Cochrane, because they do reflect the viewpoints of at least those in our Press Media, which is often the only, or primary source of “News” and Information” that our local residents see and hear.
    I have experienced the coverage and Editorials in the Cochrane Times to be most “objective”, based upon more facts, and less opinionated, so most often the best source of information. The other newspaper often represents the “backlash” or more opinionated, and often a more critical viewpoint… yet some read this and listen and it reflects that other point of view, that still influences and must be addressed.
    Yes, after reading the most relevant articles in each newspaper to what I desire to learn about and keep up-to-date with, I do recycle both newspapers, on a regular basis.
    P.S. Jeff, I believe you will find it worthwhile to read the articles by the new Editor of the COCHRANE TIMES, Daniel Austin. It is refreshing to read unbiased coverage.

    1. Hi Maihaa,
      Great thoughts, and yes, it is refreshing to read Daniel’s commentary and unbiased coverage. I actually do read the content of the papers, but do so online (generally after they “tweet” the articles out with direct links). I think in this day and age, the weekly paper is all but dead (particularly for my generation). My main point is that all those advertisers are subsidizing a paper that I believe few people read (based on my very limited market research :). I think there’s a better way to connect with today’s consumer.

      1. Hi Jeff, Thanks for your timely and supportive comments and agreement in most respects. I also agree with you that newspapers in general, and also magazines as well as most other “print” advertising is “on it’s way out”. One of my main concerns is in regards to the environment and our precious resource of trees and lumber. Another is the time it takes to grow new trees as well as the benefits to our environment to allow more of them to grow for longer periods of time (absorb more carbon dioxide and produce more oxygen) as well as to preserve natural environments around the Earth as homes for other species.
        It takes such a relatively short time to cut down and destroy trees… and for what? Newspapers that might be read for only a day, and then are thrown away, and only a much smaller percentage of paper “Recycled”?
        I usually turn down offers for “Free subscriptions” because I consider this such a waste of paper. I agree with you that “on-line”, emails, blogs and “Tweets” are a much faster way to communicate news and messages in today’s world.

  2. An “aside” here, Jeff –
    I see the photograph you have posted here on this “blog” depicts a park bench that obviously needs repainting.
    Recently I went for a walk along the path on the north side of the Bow River, overlooking the bluff along Bow Ridge Crescent in Cochrane, and I took photographs also. Like you, I noticed that all the park benches along that pathway also seriously need repainting to preserve the wood they are made of.
    This would be a way for our town to beautify our pathways, as well as to “preserve and protect” our town resources, at a low to moderate cost.

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