Friday, December 9th, 2016

Trust your local advertiser

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Autumn Drussell was demoted at the Stoughton Courier Hub in Stoughton, WI for writing a column that ticked off some local businesses.

Months after being named editor, Drussell wrote in a July column she was shopping more at low-cost big box stores because of the economy. She suggested that local businesses needed to improve customer service, stop badmouthing their areas and appeal to frugal customers, advice offered at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon she attended.

The column upset some of the newspaper’s advertisers in Stoughton, a city of 13,000 people, including hardware store owner Jim Gerber, who warned he would stop advertising until the economy improves.

Given the state of the economy and newspaper advertising, I’m shocked this doesn’t happen more often. However, newspapers that behave like Drussell alleges only lessen their value to consumers, and the resulting declining readership won’t do much for advertising revenue either.

The offended businesses should also ask themselves what’s the point of advertising in a newspaper if their pressure results in a newspaper that nobody reads. Perhaps a little more introspection on their part is called for. It’s not like Stoughton is completely isolated from other markets, some who do treat their customers better and have pricing more attractive to their customers.

On the other hand, Drussell filed a complaint with the Equal Rights Division in an effort to get her job back. I didn’t realize it was a civil right to bite the hand that feeds your employer.

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