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There's a free newspaper in our region. It's a joke. I haven't read it in months and months because, frankly, it makes me insane. I generally find myself spending more time editing the grammar and content than realizing the meaning of the story.

Oh, and did I mention that they were partially impartial?

Let me first say that this is personal. I would be lying if I didn't put it out there right up front of this rant. Since we moved here, we could not pay this paper to do a story on our bookstore. We have been told over and over again (by the paper) that they can't do a story on us because "it would be considered biased and favoritism." Um...since when did doing stories on local businesses contributing to their community say BIAS. But, OK. I'm from a big city. Apparently I don't understand the good ole boys club yet.

It hasn't mattered that we spent (PAST TENSE) hundreds and hundreds of dollars advertising in this crappy paper. Or, that we brought some big names to our bookstore events (bigger than this area has ever seen). We still couldn't get coverage.

When we became a Books for Soldiers affiliate and created a big push in our store for a books for soldiers book drive, we were picked up by three national online and print news venues. Locally? Nothing.

When we provided free, no-strings-attached seminars to the community just because it was in our mission statement, we couldn't even get them to print time/description information without paying for it.

When we partnered with another business to create a community trick-or-treat trail that brought over 300 new customers into our local business community (and paid for time and advertising ourselves)? Still nothing.

Oh, guess when they did do a story? When we announced that we might be closing because the local economy is so dismal. Guess why they did a story then? Because a local, soon-to-be commissioner asked them to do the story (because this "journalist" - using the term loosely - "owed him"). And? He's never let us forget it. (In all fairness? A far superior local paper also did a story on us possibly closing with - huh, imagine this - no strings attached! Just because it was a good community story!)

So am I bitter? Beaten down? Confused? Tired? Pissed?

You bet your bottom dollar that I'm pissed. Really pissed. Especially when I, once again, open the paper to see YET ANOTHER BUSINESS GETTING AN ARTICLE WRITTEN ABOUT THEM.

It's personal. It's personal for people and businesses like us who try to believe in a community - try to help build up a community. Those of us who have the knowledge, background and know-how to move it forward. Instead? We get beaten down.

Go ahead, free little newspaper, keep writing about businesses that you "owe" something to with your "unbiased" journalism. Keep selectively reporting - pretty soon you won't have anything left to report on.

This message was brought to you by The BBB (Bitter Bitchy Business) campaign for Jackie Wilson. Jackie Wilson has approved the content of this message.

3 comments

Stacy said... @ 7:02 PM

Being from a small town myself, and having a background in both PR and journalism, I feel your pain on this one.

But though I share your sentiment with both that and the general frustration of spelling and grammar errors in publications/public places, it leads me to wonder why you even wanted your bookstore's name associated with that P.O.S. "paper" in the first place.

If there are much better, much more credible publications you are/were getting press in, both local and national, why does this one bother you so much?

It reminds me of my experience with my college's newspaper. It was, at that time, so bad that I wouldn't even line a birdcage with it. The editor and staff knew I had better credentials than any of them (i.e.: I wrote for the Flint Journal when I was only 16, and by 17 had been published in a national magazine), and repeatedly asked me to write for them. I repeatedly refused. They couldn't understand why I didn't want to be a part of their college rag, and I didn't have the chutzpah to tell them the truth: I simply did not want my name associated with their poor excuse for a college newspaper. Sure, one could take the position that I would have improved the quality of the staff and the publication, but the damage to my byline's reputation was more risk than I wanted to take.

Likewise, I wouldn't fret too much about your lack of press in this fishwrap. The politics of small towns are nothing but B.S., yes, and it sucks that the only story you got was about the business possibly folding, but your lack of association and press overall with them was probably more of a blessing than a curse. Are/were its readers really your target audience, anyway? Personally, if I had a bookstore, I would prefer my customers to have high enough standards in what they read that they wouldn't bother picking up that "paper" in the first place.

Jackie said... @ 7:52 PM

You make great and valid points, Stacy. When I first moved here and opened the store, we weren't that familiar with the paper (I'm not even sure I had read it when someone suggested we "MUST" advertise in it because it is "THE" paper everyone reads). You're completely right, it shouldn't bother me - that it does, well, bothers me even more.
;o)

Thanks for the input, fantastic writing, and the reminder about morals & ethics! It was good to read your reality check.

Danko Ramone said... @ 12:56 PM

I hunted down the POS article on the bookstore website, and as soon as I saw who wrote it, that pretty much told me what was ahead.

I also went to the lame paper's website, only to find - on the VERY FIRST article in the news section - a grammatical error in the headline.

Good lord.

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