Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Why the Superstores Reject Newspaper Ads

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Why the Superstores Reject Newspaper Ads

Article excerpt

When a Wal-Mart or a Home Depot or a Sam's Warehouse breaks ground out by the interstate, one of the downtown businesses that starts quaking is the local paper.

Chain discounters are simply bad news for community papers, whether free- or paid-circulation.

Some publishers, in fact, believe that the continuing expansion of these big stores has already changed-the community newspaper industry for good.

"I think weekly publishers are going to have to adapt to the loss of the mom and pops and the transfer of retail dollars to the large warehouse stores," said J.J. Blonien, president of Enterprise Newspapers of West Allis, Wis.

If the effects of the advertising policies of big discounters are well known, the reasons for those policies are not much discussed.

To find out what big stores want from community paper publishers, the joint convention in Atlanta of the Association of Free Community Papers and Suburban Newspapers of America asked an executive from one of the most aggressively growing discounters to speak.

Publishers heard an earful.

From the very start, Frank Greenfield, media director of Atlanta-based Home Depot, twitted community papers.

"I'm glad to be here," he began. "The newspaper industry is one of my special... um... challenges."

Newspapers, Greenfield declared, are stubbornly resistant to change.

"Newspaper, I find, is one of the most shortsighted mediums [sic]. It's very frustrating. When revenues are down, their first response is to raise ad rates," he said.

"Further, newspapers often dismiss new ideas by simply declaring, 'We don't do things that way,'" Greenfield said.

Newspapers also tend to be inconsistent, he added.

"There are some excellent newspapers out there--and there are some that are good for lining bird cages," Greenfield said.

Despite all this, Home Depot does use newspapers--although Greenfield clearly gave the impression that it is a grudging use. …

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