Whether you are reading this column online or in print, you likely didn’t pay anything to do so.
While we have some wonderful, loyal and dedicated folks in town who buy memberships to support local journalism, most locals expect and get their news for free.
Most products we consume aren’t free, or at least not for long, as the producer would go broke.
There are a lot of misconceptions about news media and how our business is funded. A key word here is ‘business’ — as that’s actually what a media outlet is, a business enterprise — in addition to playing an essential civic role in a democratic society to disseminate news and information.
So, how do we generate revenue?
Well, almost all of it — about 95% — comes from advertising.
This includes in-paper ads, classifieds, flyer inserts, website ads, sponsored content, newsletter ads etc. Most of our advertisers are local businesses and part of the Squamish community, so we play a role in the Sea to Sky economy.
You get to know Squamish businesses better by seeing their advertising beside our well-read stories and thus shop local, in other words.
The remaining 5% of our revenue comes from other sources, which include membership/donations and other services.
We receive some funding from the Government of Canada through the Special Measures for Journalism of the Canadian Periodical Fund. This funding is there to ensure Canadians have access to editorial content, particularly in underserved areas.
So, while we appreciate the funding, it covers less than 5% of our overall operating costs. And for those folks who think this is a recent move by the Liberal government to “buy” the media, it’s important to note that before becoming a free publication in 2021, The Squamish Chief received roughly the equivalent amount of funding through the Aid to Publishers Canadian Heritage Fund, which first came into existence in 2010, under then-prime minister Stephen Harper.
When we became eligible for Special Measures for Journalism, we were no longer eligible for Aid to Publishers — it’s one or the other.
And so that is how we are funded.
Next week, we will talk about the fire guards media outlets have in place to ensure our stories aren’t impacted by who does or doesn’t advertise with us or which government gives us grants.
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