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Welcome to the official blog of the British Columbia and Yukon Community Newspapers Association (BCYCNA).

We look forward to sharing stories from across our network of news providers, as well as articles, links, and announcements from industry friends everywhere. Be sure to check this space often for BCYCNA updates, and to offer your feedback on community newspapers!

Turn Something Old Into Something New

Published on November 3, 2014, by in Uncategorized.


By John Foust
Raleigh, NC

Sometimes the best way to come up with a new idea is to look to the past. When I was in the ad agency business, I once did an ad for a construction equipment distributor to celebrate their 65 years in business. Since most anniversary ads are of the cookie cutter “congratulations to us” variety, I wanted to do something stronger – something that would be relevant to their audience.

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I’m Not Dead Yet!

Published on October 28, 2014, by in Uncategorized.

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Kelli Bultena, publisher of Tea (SD) Weekly, sent me a link to a column titled, “The Bad News About the News,” in the October 16, 2014 edition of The Brookings Essay. The essay was written by Robert G. Kaiser, former editor of The Washington Post.

Hank Bond, co-publisher of The Greenup Beacon (Russell KY), wrote last week to ask me a pointed question, “You keep writing about people saying that newspapers are dying. I don’t hear it. Who are they?”

Well, Hank, here’s another one to add to the list of about a dozen or so I sent you last week and those were off the top of my head. As Hank would probably attest, he finally said, “Enough,” after I’d rattled off the list in just a few seconds.

Mr. Kaiser wrote several things in his essay that caught my attention, but this sentence stood out: “One immediate effect of all these changes and cutbacks is that there’s no paper in America today that can offer the same coverage of its city, suburbs, and state that it provided 20 or even 10 years ago, and scores of city halls and state legislatures get virtually no coverage by any substantive news organizations.

I called Victor Parkins, publisher of the Milan (TN) Mirror-Exchange, just now and asked if that was true of his paper. “I think we cover it better. I would like for him to come to Milan, Tennessee, and see how we do it. I would love to let him go through my binders from ten years ago. Using digital technology gives us so many more contacts with our readers, and we use that as another tool in our arsenal.”

I feel quite certain I could have called a hundred other publishers and gotten similar quotes, but I’m guessing you get the point. Which leads me to my next question: Why would Mr. Kaiser write this essay in the first place?

If you’ve been reading my columns for very long, you know I don’t take much at face value. I like to dig a little. Because, as a good journalist learns over time, it’s in the digging that the truth comes out. And if you go all the way to the end of the column, which is quite lengthy in its attempt to add another scoop of dirt on print journalism’s grave, you pick up this kernel which goes a long way toward answering my question. I’ll quote it, so I don’t get it wrong: “He is the author or co-author of eight books, including The News About The News, American Journalism in Peril, written with Leonard Downie Jr.”

Remember what I wrote in a column last year about believing experts? It went something like this: “I don’t care if you’re watching a politician on TV, listening to your Sunday School teacher, or in the audience, listening to an expert speak at a newspaper convention, I want you to ask yourself this question: ‘What will this expert gain if I believe what he or she is saying?’”




Perhaps Mr. Kaiser will sell a few more books.

If I might borrow a musical term, that seems a natural segue to my next topic: the survey of 612 publishers completed in October 2014. In my last column, I shared interesting information concerning the use of social media in newspapers and the effect social media has on newspapers’ bottom lines.

Today I’d like to see what publishers have to say about Mr. Kaiser’s topic. Specifically, I’d like to know if there is “no paper in America today” that can offer the same coverage that it did 10 years ago.

Question 15 in the survey of North American publishers asked: “What changes have you made in recent years to keep your product(s) viable?”

Boy howdy, did we get answers. How about this response: 56 percent of respondents answered that there is more emphasis on hyperlocal/local news than a few years ago.

Hmmm. But Mr. Kaiser wrote, “no paper in America today…” I’m sorry. I’m digressing.

A whopping 60 percent report that they’ve invested in increased quality in production and design,47 percent have invested in improved photography and 36 percent report they have invested in printing improvements.

Finally, drum roll please, 14 percent have increased the size of their staff.

Hmmm. Yes, but.

One could argue that these are weekly papers. Obviously, Mr. Kaiser was writing about daily papers, though he never mentioned that in his column. Well, maybe. Maybe not. Thanks to technology, I can divide the survey responses by newspaper type. Guess what? 11 percent of daily newspapers reported that they’ve increased their staff size over the past few years.

People really should be more careful when they make broad pronouncements like that. It’s like the time the dean of that world-renowned journalism school told me he believed there would not be one newspaper in business in the United States by 2018. In all fairness, he still has a little over three years to prove me wrong about that one.

So there you have it: according to a survey of 612 (we quit accepting responses at 612) newspaper publishers, there seems to be at least one newspaper that isn’t fitting into Mr. Kaiser’s scenario.

And, just so you know, that survey is not for sale.

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Our Democracy and How it Functions

One of the benefits of your BCYCNA membership is all of the connections that it brings. Our friends over at Newspapers Atlantic forwarded us the following information to share with BCYCNA members.

The team at Lighthouse Media in Nova Scotia have put together an editorial package on Canada’s democracy, and how it functions. This is a well-researched and thought-provoking package that you can brand to your paper, and even sell ads in. With 20 pages of editorial, plus a quiz and answers, you can run this as a weekly feature or as a special section.

Buy the whole package for your paper for $550 (only $25 per page)!

For more information, please contact the Lighthouse Media Group at


Lighthouse Media Democracy Flyer



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Fall Webinar Series at Newspapers Canada


Did you know that as a member of BCYCNA, you are also automatically a member of Newspapers Canada? And did you know that Newspapers Canada offers an ongoing series of professional development webinars that are both valuable and relevant to community newspapers?

At one hour in length, these webinars cover a variety of subjects for all departments. Registration is done online and there is a nominal fee.

The current training season features seven brand new educational presentations covering a variety of subjects for all newspaper departments including management, editorial, marketing, advertising sales, circulation and more.

Two of the webinars have already taken place, but upcoming sessions focus specifically on newspaper promotion, youth engagement, news feature photography, and photo essays – all coming up over the next six weeks.

Newspapers and individuals can purchase a subscription package for the complete series or register for individual presentations at a cost of $25.00 per session.

Please visit for more information and to register. If you have specific questions, please contact Tina Ongkeko at



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Survey Responses Show Glimpse into the State of Newspapers

Published on October 8, 2014, by in Uncategorized.

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This column is dedicated to anyone who publishes, writes, edits, designs, sells ads for, delivers or does anything else in the newspaper industry. You might remember that last month I mentioned a survey I’ve been doing of newspaper publishers in the United States and Canada. It’s been three weeks and, so far, more than 600 publishers have taken part in the survey. Requests to complete the survey were sent out by most newspaper associations in both countries. In addition, I sent out requests to publishers in areas where associations didn’t send out a request, so we could get an accurate idea of how things are going in our industry.

My guess, knowing that many publishers manage multiple titles, is that somewhere around 20 percent of the publishers in these countries completed the in-depth survey. That’s a pretty amazing response.

To assist in keeping the results valid, I set up the survey in such a way that only one submission would be accepted from a particular IP address. This meant that answers from only one respondent at each location would be accepted, keeping the results from being skewed.

We’re nowhere near ready to release the results, but later in this column, I’d like to share some interesting responses to the survey. I’ve gathered a group of industry and non-industry experts to sift through the results. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be digging through the responses to learn what is really going on in newspapers.

A little about the respondents:

• 17 percent report their primary product is a free paper

• Coincidentally, 17 percent of responses came from daily newspaper publishers and 83 percent from non-daily newspapers.

• Not surprisingly, since most newspapers are situated in small towns and rural communities, 63 percent of survey participants come from those areas. Most of the remaining respondents came from large and mid-size metro areas.

Over the next few weeks, our group will be sifting through the responses and making notes about answers we find particularly interesting or helpful. Once we’ve had a chance to go through the answers thoroughly, I will begin sharing the information in this column and at conferences. I’m already scheduled to speak on this topic at conventions throughout Canada and the U.S. in early 2015, so chances are I will be near you at some point.

Over the past two weeks, I was able to share a couple of findings from the survey at conferences in Arizona and Indiana. Audience members were enthusiastic about the information, and many caught me afterwards or wrote me later to discuss the survey.


Some findings related to income at newspapers are simple enough to report, since they came in the form of answers to multiple choice questions. Take this one:

“For those whose primary product is paid, what percentage of your total revenue is derived from your digital/online version(s) of your primary product (through subscriptions and advertising revenue)?”

While 21 percent of publishers answered “zero” to that question, another 49 percent answered “between one and five percent” of their revenue came from these sources. Most of the remaining respondents reported between five and ten percent of their total revenue came from digital sources.

That indicates that 70 percent of newspapers receive very little, if any, revenue from the digital side of things. Contrast that with the number of papers that invest in social and digital media, which is relatively high (86 percent), and you begin to notice some interesting phenomena.

In future columns, I hope to examine in detail responses to questions about how newspapers foresee the future. A quick glance at the survey tells me that 64 percent of publishers, when answering the question, “How true is the following statement of your newspaper: My newspaper is profitable and will be for years to come,” responded that the statement is true. Another 25 percent answered that their paper is profitable, but they can’t predict the future. Ten percent report that they are having a tough year this year.

Well, there you have it. My first column related to my survey of 600 plus newspaper publishers. To be honest, it’s a bit overwhelming to look over the all the responses, many of which were essay questions, and not feel a responsibility to get the information out as quickly as possible. Still, it’s going to take some time to sift through all the answers and learn what is really on the minds of our industry leaders.

I can’t wait to share comments from publishers who were given an open forum to share their thoughts about our industry and their advice for the future. This is going to be an interesting ride.

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Bridges Take Selling From Point A to Point B

Published on October 3, 2014, by in Uncategorized.


By John Foust

Raleigh, NC

One of the most impressive bridges I’ve ever seen is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It is four and a half miles long and connects the eastern and western shores of Maryland. Rising high above the waves, it enables travelers to cross the bay in a fraction of the time the trip would take by boat.

Although most bridges aren’t quite as dramatic, they all serve the same purpose. They help us move from Point A to Point B, usually over water.

Words can be bridges, too. When we communicate, we use certain phrases to connect pieces of information. Most of these bridges are so subtle that we hardly notice them. But if we didn’t have them, communication would be as choppy as the waters under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Language bridges are especially important in selling. Whether we are making a sales presentation or writing ad copy, bridges help us make the shift from the product to the person. Consider features and benefits. A feature belongs to the product (all-wheel drive, for instance), while a benefit belongs to the person using the product (better traction).

Without a bridge, a sales point is blunt and awkward. When you read or hear,“The vehicle has all-wheel drive. Get better traction,” it’s easy to sense the need for a few words to tie the two thoughts together.

Adding a bridge creates the smooth transition we need: “The vehicle has four-wheel drive. THIS WILL GIVE YOU better traction.” Now the focus has shifted from the car to the person driving the car.

There are plenty of bridges you can use to connect features and benefits: as a result…this means that…due to this…this creates…this allows you to…this promotes…this generates…because of this. Unless you’re talking to a stilted and formal person, stay away from stilted and formal connectors like “therefore” and “hence.”

Although it is more common to put the feature before the benefit, sometimes you can switch the order. For example: “You’ll get better traction when you drive, BECAUSE this vehicle has all-wheel drive.” Either way, a bridge is a bridge and will help you communicate more effectively.

In some cases, you may want to use a second bridge to lead to a more meaningful benefit: “The vehicle has all-wheel drive. This will give you better traction. AND your passengers will feel safer riding with you, especially in bad weather.” The second benefit is more important than the first, because it is emotional rather than logical. But you can’t convincingly arrive at the second benefit (feel safer) without starting with the first one (better traction). Obviously, this progression works only when there is a close relationship between the two benefits.

Word bridges serve two useful purposes. They separate features and benefits, helping audiences see each distinctly. And they link them together to create a smooth flow through sales points.

It’s all a matter of moving your message from Point A to Point B.


(c) Copyright 2014 by John Foust. All rights reserved.


John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments are using his training videos to save time and get quick results from in-house training. E-mail for information:

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Countdown to the Ma Murray Awards

Published on September 26, 2014, by in Uncategorized.
The countdown is on! The 2015 Ma Murray Awards Gala will be taking place on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at the River Rock Casino Resort.

Now is the time to start gathering your best work from 2014. Think about some of the best photos, campaigns, articles, and community services that your paper has been responsible for this year, and get ready to be recognized for your work!

In fact, you can avoid the mad rush that always happens at holiday time by uploading entries right now to the online electronic scrapbook. This is a new feature that lets you save your most award-worthy work directly to the online contest system site in advance. With this system you can upload it right to your new online scrapbook and it will be there waiting for you when it’s time to formally submit your entries. (And if you change your mind come contest time, no harm done – you are not required to use the entries you put in your scrapbook.) Get the easy step-by-step instructions here.

If you need a reminder of all the award categories, here is a complete list. (Please keep in mind that these categories are currently under review and there may be some changes coming before the 2015 competition officially opens.)

Also, the BCYCNA Awards Gala Committee surveyed the last few years of entries and came up with a list of your “Best Odds” categories. Check it out here.

We always welcome your feedback and suggestions, and could always use new contacts for Award Sponsors, so if you have ideas, please feel free to call or email the BCYCNA office at any time.

Let’s make 2015 the best Ma Murray Awards Gala ever!

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National Newspaper Week is Coming

Published on September 26, 2014, by in Uncategorized.


The 74th annual National Newspaper Week (NNW) will take place from October 5-11, 2014.

This week-long celebration recognizes the important role that newspapers play in the lives of communities large and small around the world. The theme of this year’s event is “Newspapers: The Foundation of Vibrant Communities”

NNW also includes Newspaper Carrier Day, which takes place on Saturday, October 11. This special day is designed to honour the hard-working men and women who make a vital contribution to the industry.

In order to help promote National Newspaper Week and Carrier Day, Newspaper Association Managers and Newspapers Canada have produced a package of free materials for newspapers to use in their own publications.

Newspapers Canada encourages all members to download and publish these materials in an effort to promote the enduring strength of the newspaper industry during this week-long celebration.

Here are two ads you can customize and run in your paper: one for National Newspaper Week, and one for Newspaper Carrier Day. The full National Newspaper Week resource kit—which includes a variety of editorial cartoons, puzzles, editorials and more—is available at


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Facebook is not out-competing community newspapers Or – Why we are awesome

Published on September 26, 2014, by in Uncategorized.


Contrary to popular belief, it is not less expensive to advertise online than in a community paper. In fact, it can be a lot more expensive to buy Facebook than print.

Before I explain, let’s take a moment to remember why you do what you and just how awesome community newspapers are.

You already know that the people in your communities trust the ads they see in their community paper more than the ads they see in any other media[1]. And that they prefer to see ads in their community paper over any other media. And that community papers have a far greater reach than online, TV, and radio advertising.

But sometimes advertisers need a little more convincing.

Suzanne Raitt, Senior Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer at Newspapers Canada, has provided the BCYCNA with numerous studies that can be used to communicate the immense value, reach, and connectedness of community papers.

In a 2013 study by Totem Research, 95% of respondents said their number one reason for reading community newspapers was for local news or local events. In other words, when people want to know what’s happening in their community, they turn to their community paper. And that’s not going to change. As columnist Robert Williams[2] puts it:

“As long as parents take pride in the birth of a baby, a home run by their Little Leaguer, or graduation, marriage, promotion or any number of life’s milestones, people will enjoy reading about them in their community newspaper.

As long as people care about who died in their community this week, how high their taxes may rise or who scored the winning touchdown at the high school football game — community newspapers will be alive.

As long as bulletin boards and refrigerator doors display cherished family memories, community newspapers will be alive.


Despite what a few might have you believe, newspapers are far from dead.”

No, they’re not even close to dead. Rather, newspapers are “The Foundation of Vibrant Communities” – that is the theme of this year’s National Newspaper Week, running from October 5 – 11, 2014 (

As newspaper publishers, you already know your importance in your community. But sometimes it’s nice to be reminded.

The community paper holds a special place in the home. Community newspapers are part of the home, and part of the community. Often read by more than one person, they have a long shelf life. In contrast, a medium like radio is fragmented, requiring many ads on many stations to effectively connect with their market.

While many assume that community newspapers are losing out to an ever-more-digital world, here’s a tidbit you may not have thought about:

One ad in the BCYCNA network of 120+ papers will be circulated to almost 2 million homes. Since more than one person in each home will likely read the paper, our network’s weekly readership is around 2.3 million.

To place an ad in the BCYCNA network, an advertiser will need to spend $395 (for a classified ad) or $995 (for a 1 column x 2 inch display ad).

To measure “readership” in the online world, we have to think of “impressions” – how many times an ad appears before a potential reader. To get even 1 million impressions on Facebook, an advertiser would have to spend almost $10,000.

Let’s see… What makes more sense? Spending less than $1,000 for 2.3 million impressions in the most-trusted medium, where audiences prefer to receive their advertising? Or spending ten times the money for less than half the impressions – on Facebook?

The impact is huge when you look at it from a province-wide angle. Now let’s look at it from a more local perspective, where Facebook can be a useful advertising tool: in a town of 20,000 (White Rock, for example), what is the likelihood that a Facebook ad will reach all the residents? Answer: it won’t.

According to Facebook’s own advertising algorithms, only 15,000 people in White Rock actually use Facebook. So no matter how much money you spend, you can’t reach them all.

Also, the effectiveness of Facebook varies by location. In a city like Ladner, the maximum number of people that can be reached via Facebook is 3,800, even though the population is 21,000. So while it may be an inexpensive option, less than 20% of Ladner’s population actually uses Facebook, so most of them are not even going to see the ad.

But each and every one of them is going to receive their community newspaper.

There is simply NO OTHER MEDIUM with the depth and breadth of reach that community newspapers can provide. We are not only the most trusted media, but we also have the greatest reach.

So if you had any doubt, put it to rest. We’re not going anywhere.

Publishers, feel free to use any of the marketing materials provided by Newspapers Canada, linked below.

Connecting to Canadians with Community Newspapers

Community Newspaper Fact Sheet 2014

Shopping Habits of Rural vs. Urban Canadians.pdf

Media and Ad Engagement Research Summary.pdf

For all of the above fact sheets (and more):

[1] Except where otherwise noted, data comes from Connecting to Canadians with Community Newspapers, 2013).


[2] Robert M. Williams, Jr. is a weekly newspaper publisher in Georgia and president of the National Newspaper Association, representing more than 2,500 daily and weekly newspapers across America. Email him at



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Don’t forget about Bridge – One of Adobe’s most useful tools

Published on September 8, 2014, by in Uncategorized.

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Checking my email has produced better than usual results this morning. Besides looking over questions from readers and browsing through the more than 2,000 spam messages I receive on an average morning, I’ve enjoyed seeing responses coming in from a survey that I posted late yesterday. As newspaper associations and groups throughout North America have begun sending requests to their  of newspaper publishers and managers to complete the survey, responses are arriving at the rate of one to two per minute this morning.

Survey questions relate to advertising, social media, industry evolution, technology and more. If you haven’t completed the survey, visit to share your responses.


Adobe Bridge: The most underused tool in Adobe’s Creative Suite/Cloud

I have to admit: I’m as much to blame as anyone. Honestly, I figured everyone was already using Adobe Bridge, so I’ve not put  much effort into teaching Bridge tools at workshops and classes over the past few years.

Longtime photo editors remember the Browser from versions of Photoshop prior to CS2. Since then, Bridge has been included in all Creative Suite/Cloud packages and also with stand-alone Adobe Photoshop.


The Image Processor allows Bridge users to convert files and run Photoshop Actions on large groups of images at one time.

So why am I bringing up the Bridge now? After recent trips to train small and large newspapers in several states, I noticed that most designers and photo editors rarely, if ever, use the Bridge. As a result, I added a Bridge class in a day long training session for a large paper in California in September, and the response was pretty surprising. Almost everything I taught was new to everyone in the group.


What is Adobe Bridge?

First and foremost, Adobe Bridge is a digital asset management application. It keeps track of your files, whether they are photos, PDFs or whatever and makes them easy to find and display intuitively.

The most common use for Bridge is simply finding files. Click on a folder or drive and see thumbnails of all the files in that location. I’ve found the Bridge most useful for browsing pictures on a camera card and quickly deciding which to keep and which to discard. Not only can you search files by name, users can find files using metadata. Metadata is a set of standardized information about a file, including author, resolution, color space, copyright, and keywords applied to it. For example, most digital cameras attach some basic information to an image file, such as height, width, file format and time the image was taken. These are all included in the metadata.

When I visited with Jean Matua, Minnesota publisher, three years ago, she asked how we could create a photo archive that would enable her staff to easily pull up any image from the past. We did that using Adobe Bridge. By adding keywords into the metadata of each image, a process that takes just a moment, the pics can be found in a matter of seconds with a simple search in the future.


Users can select “Batch Rename” in Adobe Bridge to move, copy and rename groups of photos from one place to another.


I’ve used a variety of Bridge tools since Photoshop added the Browser way back in March 2002. My favorite has been the “Batch Rename” feature, which allows me to take all – or any selected – images on a camera card and move or copy them to a new location with the name of my choice. This is incredibly valuable, as it allows me to take all 200 of those photos taken at the high school game and place them in a designated folder with the names “2014Football-001,” “2014Football-002,” etc.

The Image Processor is another valuable tool in the Bridge. With it, I can select a folder full of images and convert them to JPG, TIF or PSD format with the click of a button. Even better, the Image Processor allows me to run Photoshop Actions on all images in a folder at once, without leaving the Bridge.

I’d almost forgotten how easy it is to create web galleries using the Bridge. By simply selecting a folder or group of images, then clicking a few buttons, I have a complete gallery of images, in whatever format I choose, ready to upload to an FTP site. This means a user can literally create a Web page catalog of hundreds of photos, which can be clicked and enlarged on the screen, in a matter of seconds.

There’s more to Bridge. Edits made through Camera RAW are actually non-destructive. The settings are saved in an external file instead of embedded into the image. Sure, you can edit your RAW images in Photoshop, but working in Camera RAW in the Bridge is quicker.

Users can create image catalogs, assign copyright messages, export files for social media and more. Needless to say, Adobe Bridge is a valuable tool in any designer or photo editor’s arsenal.

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