We received this lovely voice-mail message from a Concerned Local Businessperson:
“I own four businesses in Regina and there’s no way in hell I’d ever advertise anything in your magazine after reading page seven where you’ve used the word “eff eff eff eff eff eff eff””. If you think businesses want to be associated with a piece of crap like that you might want to think again. Totally unprofessional, totally inappropriate for a city like Regina [that] likes to promote community and good things. Just a piece of garbage. I will be passing this on to a lot of my other friends in Regina who own businesses and say, ‘just stay away’ from this magazine. Bye! [click]”
Thanks very much for the thoughtful comments sent from your unlisted phone line. We do appreciate anonymous complaints and take them very seriously. It sounds like you’re upset about this article. I’ll attempt to address your concerns:
1.) Perhaps the problem here is that you’ve never read anything like prairie dog — which, to be fair, has only been in existence for 18 years — before, and you’re surprised to find something that contains such, ah, lively writing. And yet, perhaps surprisingly to you, publications like PD are a common phenomenon! Our magazine belongs to a category of free publications called “alternative newsweeklies”. These free picker-uppers tend to have a left-leaning mix of news and commentary along with lively music, film, arts and lifestyle coverage. Articles in alts tend to be characterized by strong opinion, humour, intelligence and grown-up language. This is fine: alts are intended for an adult readership; in fact, in most markets they’re packed with ads for booze, pubs and clubs.
There is even an industry association (which, unfortunately, we are not a member of because we only publish bi-weekly).
You can find alts in most North American cities — my favourites are The Stranger in Seattle, Now in Toronto and The Coast in Halifax. The Georgia Straight in Vancouver is also excellent. Even conservative Alberta has three alts: two in Edmonton (See and Vue) and one in Calgary (FFWD). All are delightful.
2.) Thank you for offering to organize an advertising boycott over writing you personally find offensive! Nothing says “I support free speech” like an attack on a newspaper’s revenue. However, before you condemn our use of language, you might want to consider that some of your business’ customers almost certainly employ a ripe vocabulary on occasion. Some of them doubtless read and enjoy our cute little newspaper! To be safe, you might want to hang signs on the doors of all four of your shops advising such undesirables to take their business elsewhere (perhaps the Internet?). Fortunately there’s an excellent chance they already do since you don’t currently advertise in prairie dog. Like us, our readers don’t have a clue who you are or what you sell.
3.) The reason we ran this naughty-language-filled feature is because Canadians elected a radical, American-style political party to a majority government and we’re all completely freaked out. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives seem like the opposite of everything Canada stands for–notably compassion, tolerance and reason. Plus, like most media outlets, we’ve spent years reporting in detail on Conservative sins — their structural deficits, hostility to media, chronic distortion of facts, the cancelled daycare program, attacks on dissenting opinions, science and research, the arts, minority rights, and all kinds of fun like that. Many Saskatchewan voters apparently don’t read, don’t care or both, so in the end we kind of threw up our hands here and figured, what’s the point in reporting facts? Let’s just swear a lot. We’ll feel better, and so will a lot of our readers.
Then again, if you go by the polling stations rather than the ridings (which are freakish and unnatural amalgamations of rural and urban voters) Reginans apparently voted 51 per cent for the NDP. Which means 51 per cent of your customers, probably spent election night swearing too.
You might want to have a word with them.
Thanks again for the phone call! Best regards,
Stephen Whitworth, Editor
Regina’s Independent Voice