So the City of Ottawa has finally decided to revise its legally mandated advertising policy to keep the public informed of its initiatives.
That said, it took the demise of eight Ottawa community newspapers to get the local government’s attention. The city had run out of places to advertise. It changes or it breaks the law. There’s been a lot of work to avoid The Bulldog receiving city advertising.
This is a bit of a sore point for the staff and management of The Bulldog. This news site does 124,000 page views a week … yes a week. Readership skyrocketed 55 per cent from June until September this year. The Bulldog focuses on local events and, particularly, the municipal government.
And yet with six years of existence and media outlets laying off and disappearing, The Bulldog has grown its audience and failed to fold. It has no intentions of disappearing anytime soon. It makes money. No layoffs or buyouts. That’s pretty amazing in the worst media financial crisis in modern history.
So we are feeling a bit unloved. Perhaps the right word is blacklisted. It has happened before on city press releases.
The Bulldog has never received a legally mandated ad from the City of Ottawa in six years. Now how could that have happened? We’re baffled.
You have before you a publication with a six year track-record of City of Ottawa-oriented, big readership and yet no city ads. Instead ads have been going to publications that have announced they’re closing. Wow, imagine the boffo readership in those publications.
Communications head Andrea Lanthier-Seymour says the City of Ottawa has a very sophisticated system of choosing where its legally mandated ads will go. Yes, so sophisticated that eight of those publications just folded. Hmmm. Perhaps the city needs a new sophisticated computer program. We have no end of them here at The Bulldog. Come on over. We’re here to help.
Maybe it has something to do with the content. As in The Bulldog actually practises free speech … vigorously … both its commenters (about 4,000 comments a year) and now thousands more on the new Bulldog Forum. Our audience is very engaged. These are the people the City of Ottawa needs to reach … the taxpayers of Ottawa who care about municipal affairs. Who know right from wrong. The Bulldog’s readers believe in free speech, free expression, vigorous democracy and fairness. What does the City of Ottawa believe in?
We’d hate to use the word ‘blacklist’ again but one sure does get lonely out here with 124,000 page views from highly motivated Ottawns … and yet no city ads.
Perhaps that’s because the defunct community papers have editorial standards that would call hell tepid. Tough journalism? That could offend an advertiser. Thank goodness the city is above being offended. You know … free speech, democracy … that kind of stuff.
Lanthier-Seymour will be holding a series of meetings on this issue which The Bulldog would be happy to attend. The Bulldog has sent her a detailed package of information on readership and rates. She knows we’re out here. We’ve even talked. The Bulldog is modern, big and cutting-edge.
We trust that Lanthier-Seymour and Mayor Jim Watson will make the right decision in the upcoming election year.
We’re tired of hearing the word ‘blacklist’ around here. No doubt the voting public is, too. A blacklist is a way of contributing to the demise of a publication. It’s sad enough that media outlets are going the way of the dodo. Worse is that the city is picking favourite softball publications to place its ads so as to contribute to the demise of The Bulldog. But then that’s how our civic democracy feels about politics and free speech. You see it in other municipal fields, too. The Bulldog has pointed that out despite the pecuniary problems that ensue for this publication. It will continue to do so.
This news site needs no lessons in journalism or excuses for being omitted from mandatory city advertising. The public of Ottawa is voting with its eyeballs. Residents read The Bulldog. The city is acting like an ostrich.
The Bulldog has the big readership, city focus, the authority and the reputation to be included generously in legally mandated municipal advertising. Petty biases and immature politics should not stand in the way of what is right.
Photo above: The City of Ottawa position on The Bulldog.
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