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liberalfirstlongoriginal
Saturday
February 22nd, 2020
L&T Opinions Page

earl watt mugL&T Publisher Earl Watt

 

Criticism comes in all shapes and sizes, and when you write a newspaper column and put your name on it, you are exposed to a variety of criticisms and compliments that can be justly deserved or simply mean-spirited.

The most recent critique added that my photo was apparently out of date.

“I have seen you at meetings,” the less-than-adoring fan wrote. “Take a new picture.”

Ouch.

Have I aged that badly in the last six years? Does my picture convey a false sense of my appearance?

I wasn’t quite sure, but I knew it was not a compliment.

To show how open and responsive I am to our readers, I have updated my photo, and just so you can be the judge, I have printed both side by side, the one taken in 2014 and the one taken now.

The critic was first and foremost complaining that we have started to charge for our stories we place online.

Yes, we charge an online subscription to see content at liberalfirst.com.

Our business is changing. We have kept up with automation as far as we could to keep expenses down. But many advertisers believe they can reach people on Facebook as an advertising plan rather than using traditional advertising outlets like local newspapers and radio stations.

Statistics show that Facebook has little credibility among consumers, and newspapers still maintain the highest rated credibility of any media.

Advertising honesty goes hand in hand with that study. Most people are skeptical of advertising on social media.

According to a study by Trustpilot, almost 75 percent of social media users don’t trust sponsored advertising.

But Millennials — yes, that group who has embraced online as their defining source, also show more trust in newspaper advertising above any other.

According to a study by News Media Works, Millennials  had the highest rate of trust in newspaper ads, 62 percent to 38 percent.

On their website, New Media had the following statement — “I feel that newspapers are more traditional and therefore more trustworthy,” commented Pete, a 24-year-old respondent.

In addition to the trust shown in newspaper advertising and the trustworthiness of the news in general, Enhanced Media Metrics discovered that “66 percent of community newspaper readers look forward to reading their local paper and 70 percent would miss it if it were not available – exemplifying the medium’s trustworthiness.”

All media have seen challenges — newspapers have seen online searches for information and the rise of social media while radio has seen it’s largest audience, those driving in cars, reduced significantly by satellite radio services. 

According to an article on cnet.com entitled, “Anybody out there still listening to radio?” more and more people are turning to other sources for music and talk shows than local radio.

According to the article, “It’s clear that Millennials and Generation Z grew up with other ways of hearing music, so fewer and fewer of them are listening to radio.”

While newspapers still garner the highest level of trust in advertising and in news, there are still advertisers who are trying the social media route despite the low success and trust rate.

Those changes affect how we fund our business, and since the cornerstone of our business is information, we couldn’t keep giving it away online.

We started a modest fee for the online version of our stories starting as low as $3 per week. The fee is only $60 for an entire year.

But the key is our information requires a staff to gather it, proof it, produce it and deliver it, and those can’t be done for free.

Like most of you, we have property taxes, payroll, utilities, insurance and multiple other business expenses, and we can’t provide those at no charge.

Yes, advertising is a large source of our income, and we have spent 138 years building up trust with the customers with the ads and news we provide.

But with online competition, even though it is less trusted and less effective, we had to make the switch to charging for access to our online news as well.

This isn’t new. Garden City, Dodge City, Wichita, Hutchinson and virtually every larger sized paper in the state started charging years ago.

If you already subscribe, just call us and we will get you a name and password. You can send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Yeah, I’m a little older than my lost photo, and our business continues to evolve. But our trustworthiness remains the same, and you can count on that for years to come.

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