Newsbf turning two

February 26, 2013

By Mike Weland



On March 1, 2013, News Bonners Ferry will celebrate its official second birthday. No party is planned. While it’s not quite where I want it yet, I started it because I felt that traditional media had shifted away from proper; that the reader, not the advertiser, deserves more.


Due to rising costs of ink and air, the media I once worked for and with shifted to a place I don’t like; a place where advertising is first and news is second. I understand; advertising pays the bills and is essential to a free press; advertising support has, since the early days of this nation, put news in the hands of readers.


But most media today seems to have forgotten why advertising was once valuable, and instead of doing a better job at what media should be doing; disseminating news of importance and interest at the local level, even local media has gone “regional,” it’s less controversial.


In the old days, a media published news because news was important and it meant something to readers; advertisers needed the media; not only because they wanted to know the news like everyone else, but because a media that delivered trustworthy information could deliver their ad to a lot more people, what we in the business call "reach."


Advertising was an investment; you bought reach, not control of news; if something was published that you, as a business, didn’t like, you pulled your ad.


The result has been, unfortunately, that most media has trended away from local news toward regional, away from serving the reader to catering to the advertiser.


Local media now most often charges to publish or air what local news is; an obituary, a wedding announcement, an event put on by local talent for local people … what was once news, the very thing that gave benefit to readers and advertisers, is now too often advertising itself.


In my mind, it shouldn’t be that way.


When I launched newsbf March 1, 2011, I had no advertisers; I hadn’t proved that I could deliver the reach to make their advertising dollar pay. My thought was that if I stayed true to publishing honest, timely and accurate news, the people who matter, the readers, would appreciate the effort, and I would build the reach to benefit advertisers.


I very much appreciate the advertisers who have invested in my effort, but I appreciate more the readers who now look to this journal for news, and who trust and depend on what is published here.


The trust of readers, even when I err, is the currency that this site depends on. To bring timely and trusted news, without cost to readers, is and will always be the purpose of this site.


The advertisers that recognize this and invest in the trust and reach developed will help me keep doing better; in so doing, they will help me gain more readers, more potential customers who visit this site because they have an interest in Boundary County and the people here.


As a reporter, I was chastised once because my reportage, the veracity of which was unquestioned, cost the media I worked for an advertiser.


As publisher, my allegiance is and always will be to the local reader, to presenting news, as honest and accurate as I am able, free of charge, to developing the trust that is the very bedrock foundation of journalism.


It’s easy to write and publish news from far away and of people you don’t know … it’s easy to avoid controversy and appease advertisers.


News, delivered accurately and on time, can and does matter to the people who need it; it can make the difference between life and death. It's not always comfortable.


I am grateful to those who advertise, and who allow me to do what I so love doing. But it’s the readers to whom I am obligated, and to whom I’m most grateful.


Trust is hard earned, and the most valuable asset to which a news media should aspire. I'm not perfect, but even when I err, that's the goal I will not lose sight of.