Ontario’s 220 community newspapers are not feeling the love from the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries’ campaign to “show your love for local.” The campaign was aimed at instilling a sense of pride of place and encourage people to safely be a tourist in their own communities.
Enthused Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, “we need local, as much as local needs us,”…clearly, we need to support our locally owned businesses now, when they need us the most.”
The only problem is that the media campaign excludes the 220 community newspapers in Ontario from receiving any of the revenue—its all going to electronic media. Nonetheless the ministry circulated its news release to all of the community papers looking for free coverage-=-called “earned media” in the communications business. The new campaign which will launch on TV, radio, digital and social media starting mid-December and run until mid-January 2021 will consist of ads that “focus on the close-knit relationship between local businesses and the communities they serve.”
The Ontario Community Newspapers Association, of which the Bay Observer is a member, in a message to its members wrote, “the Ontario government designed and paid for a campaign promoting local business using Google, social media and broadcast, but not local newspapers. Instead, they ask us to cover the “story” for free. I encourage you to do so – highlighting the ignorance and hypocrisy demonstrated by Minister Lisa MacLeod and her team, who say they support local business, and then spend money on businesses that are anything but local.”
In a letter to the Minister, OCNA Executive Director Caroline Medwell wrote, “I imagine that Google and Facebook are on your media plan, along with a broadcast network buy or two – none of which are in any way local. We have seen your television commercial – schmaltzy and emotional – and ask how much that production cost.”
Medwell has requested a meeting with the ministry to find a solution. Most of Ontario’s rural ridings have no local radio or television and some still have poor broadband access, but they are all served by local community newspapers.