Whitworth Lecture: Winter 2010

University of Regina classes end in a couple of weeks so this is my last chance to talk about some fun I had on campus. Back in February I  invaded the second year anthropology course Popular Culture. I met prof. Gediminas Lankauskas when he won our Typo Wiener contest in the fall and basically tricked him into inviting me to speak to his students. 

Here are the happy, smiling students. So eager to learn! That’s Gedimus in the back waving like a nerd.

I spoke about the relationship between content and advertising in prairie dog and in the media business generally. I laid out the basic rules: you don’t promise anyone you’ll print articles in exchange for advertising and you make damn sure your readers can tell the difference between ads and articles. Advertorials — paid, article-style advertisements — are kosher as long as they follow the preceding rule.

The important thing is to keep editorial departments separate from sales departments. Plus sales people have cooties.

Prairie dog’s basic business model is this: we cultivate a strong readership with smart, unique content, and  advertisers buy competitively-priced ads around that content to market their wares to our readers. Sadly, as I told the students, we get a lot of pressure (and punishment) from businesses and organizations who will only advertise if we write favourably about them. To some extent this is the state of the industry everywhere but from what I’ve seen in other cities, Regina tends to be unusually ignorant about what makes advertising effective.

You’d be really surprised at some of the businesses who try to blackmail favourable stories out of us in exchange for their paid ads. It’s more about inexperience than malice but I’m sure glad I don’t have to sell ads for us.

Anyway, nice class, smart kids and too much fun generally. A belated thanks to Gedimus and his students for their patience and friendliness. Wish I had more time for outings like this.

We now return you to regularly scheduled Dog Bloggery.

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Stephen Whitworth will be the editor of Prairie Dog until he dies. He's as thrilled about that as you are.