Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments


Why it isn’t good for your paper
This goes to show that activism, in any form, should not be welcome at your newspaper.

A newspaper is theoretically an unbiased news source for the local community. Of course, there are biased news outlets, but all in all, community papers should report the news in all of its unfettered and unbiased glory. Most papers stay away from activism, as it alienates readers and is a slippery slope that can hurt revenue.  For example, a newspaper in North Dakota is taking some heat for pulling a paid marriage announcement from their Weddings section. The Fargo Forum recently removed the marriage announcement of Allison Johnson and Kelsey Smith citing that they do not allow announcements for same-sex couples. While same-sex marriage is not recognized is North Dakota, the couple wanted to publicize their union for family and friends.

Opinions on the legality of same-sex marriage aside, the Fargo Forum let its personal values get in the way of its revenue stream. By removing the announcement and refunding the $25 publication fee to the couple, the paper not only lost an ad, but also offended and angered Johnson and Smith and community members alike. This goes to show that activism, in any form, should not be welcome at your newspaper. Although it is understandable that individuals have personal beliefs and values, highlighting individual — and highly political — values can only do your paper harm. The Fargo Forum now faces a possible lawsuit and the reality of many customers considering abandoning their subscriptions.

There is a reason that when you print Opinion pages, you not only identify the author, but also very clearly define that the author does not represent the views of the newspaper. His voice is his own. This disclaimer allows community members, pundits and others to opine about your city or the world and do so with the responsibility of those words as their own burdens. You, as a responsible and unbiased news source, are not, and should not, be responsible for those voices.

However, when you limit sections of the paper, especially paid sections of the paper, based on your own personal, religious or political views, you have to bear the responsibility of those actions. Nobody else can be held accountable if you choose to limit what people are willing to pay for. The penalty for this, like it will be for The Fargo Forum, will not only be the loss of the publication fee, but also a large consumer base.

For these reasons, it is generally a good idea to leave the activism out and focus on generating robust revenue streams with high quality journalism.


Find the story from the point of view of Johnson and Smith here:


And also a link The Fargo Forum’s response