What are we, chopped liver?
The beef community newspapers have with this ad campaign has nothing to do with local fire companies; the complaint is aimed squarely at FASNY. Recruiting volunteer firefighters is niche marketing at its finest, the very thing that community newspapers excel at. The people who are most likely to volunteer for their local fire department are individuals who care deeply about their communities and the people who live in those communities.
Statewide, community newspapers average over 60% penetration in the communities they serve, while the highest ranked television or radio station averages an eight to nine percent share of the viewing or listening audience.
When major advertising campaigns pay homage to youthful trends at the expense of dedicated traditional journalism, it weakens an enterprise that tells the story of volunteer fire departments with the greatest depth and consistency of any other form of media. We are ever-grateful that most businesses and organizations in our communities understand that their support of independent local journalism means photos of future acts of heroism and generosity will find a home on the pages—as well as the webpages—of their community newspapers.
[Michelle Rea is the Executive Director of the New York Press Association/New York Press Service.]