One of the saddest traits of local newspapers is how those publications condescend to readers. Another example of this comes from the Janesville Gazette, where that publication is contending that half-off advertising is somehow a community grant. Splashed all over the webpage of that paper yesterday, one found ads for the so-called community grant program. The particulars reveal a shamefully deceptive approach:
“APG Southern Wisconsin- The Gazette, Messenger, and Walworth County SmartShop has established a $500,000 grant fund to assist locally owned businesses during this challenging situation. As a family owned business, we understand what you are going through and have stepped forward to support our community. Simply fill out the application at the website below to get started.”
The APG ‘grant’ is only for advertising at these publications, and APG is only a ‘family owned business’ if one considers the family of a rightwing billionaire who made his money in billboards as a typical use of the term ‘family-owned.’
Is anyone at the Gazette or APG a native English speaker? For someone new to the language, confusing the meaning of these terms would be understandable. For someone who attended an English-language elementary school, there’s no excuse for misunderstanding.
These are men who deceptively fashion profit as charity. No and no again: charity is charity (Habitat for Humanity, American Cancer Society, food pantries, etc.). APG isn’t giving a charitable contribution to the community – it’s making a deal with advertisers for its own benefit. Even half-off is probably a bad deal for advertisers to the Gazette, Messenger, and Walworth County SmartShop. The Gazette‘s rate card should probably be reduced by more than half – asking local businesses to pay to advertise in that publication isn’t outright theft, but it’s closer each day.
Only weeks ago – after years of economic stagnation and a swirling pandemic – the deceptive or dimwitted editor of the Gazette (Sid Schwartz) ran a series called Progress 2020. For Janesville, Wisconsin that’s the like the Titanic’s captain telling passengers of that sinking ship that cruising was safer than ever. See A Newspaper’s Boosterism During a Pandemic.
Everyone in a leadership position at these publications should apologize for their laughably deceptive proposal, and then promptly and permanently retreat from a public role.