I was just looking over our revenue and ad sales when the chime on my email sounded. Good news—or so it seemed—had come our way. Someone wanted to purchase a full-page ad.
As a longtime journalist, I’d never really had to concern myself with ad sales. After all, that’s what sales reps do. Journalists, on the other hand, chase down sources, dig for quotes, attend press conferences and snap pictures. (Yes, we’re the ones who have all the fun!) I can still remember whining to an editor at another newspaper once years ago: Do we really have to have an ad on that page?
Fast forward to May, 2017 and suddenly Wrangler News was without its advertising director. Would I be willing to step in and take over some of her duties while still managing content and cranking out articles?
The answer was yes. My father was an advertising executive, so I’d grown up with copies of Advertising Age on the coffee table and hearing about what makes for a compelling ad. But what really sticks out in my mind when I think of my father is sitting around the dinner table with my family in our kitchen one warm spring evening.
“What does the word integrity mean?” I asked my mom casually. I must have been about 11 years old. Mom laid her fork down and looked me straight in the eye. “If you want to know what integrity means, take a look at your father.”
And I knew exactly what she meant.
Honesty. Uprightness. Strong moral principles—that was my dad. You never had to wonder about whether he was doing the right thing. Dad instilled in us the crucial importance of acting with integrity and being guided by moral principles. That’s a song that’s always playing in the back of my mind, something that I hope will guide me to my dying breath.
Back to the modern era: When the email inquiry came in about a full-page ad, I’ll admit I was a little excited. Wrangler News has never operated with profit as our number one priority, but believe me, ad sales help keep these pages your reading rolling off the presses every two weeks. And yet, there was a warning bell ringing in the background as I examined the email. What was this potential client selling? And why didn’t he say?
A few emails sailed back and forth. He’d have full-page artwork for us right away. He didn’t want to miss our deadline. “But what exactly are you selling?” I prodded him.
Then it came out: He wanted to advertise a local marijuana dispensary. I told him that such an ad would never, ever be found on the pages of Wrangler News.
Sure, other community newspapers do it. But we’re not like everyone else.
Wrangler News is here to help build stronger families, stronger neighborhoods and stronger communities. You’ll find ads for school districts, churches, service organizations and local businesses on our pages. You’ll find pictures of Little League sluggers, church picnics and guide dogs alongside stories about “the place we call home,” to quote our front-page tagline.
In an era in which young people in our community are dying in a suicide epidemic and drug abuse continues to plague us, Wrangler News is not about to profit from the sale of marijuana, albeit in what apparently is a legal, state-licensed and sanctioned dispensary.
As the would-be client assured me, “if it [marijuana] were recreational, about 40 percent of your readers would benefit.”
Funny how the big push is always for medical marijuana but when you dig a little deeper, full legalization of recreational marijuana is the ultimate goal.
Last fall I travelled to Denver, Colorado. I always pick up the local community newspaper when I visit another city and was appalled by the number of ads for marijuana and even reviews of marijuana products.
Wrangler News has had the opportunity over the last year to publish such ads but we’ve rejected them without a backward glance. The same goes for vulgar or suggestive advertising, the likes of which have also come our way every so often. So no, you won’t find that kind of thing on these pages you hold in your hands.
We rely on our people like you and our loyal, family-friendly advertisers to help us continue to tell the stories of the people who live, study, work, serve and worship in our community.
Integrity, the kind I learned from my father, remains our pledge to each of you.