Huffington Post (& Coolhunting & Ideal Bite & ReDirect Guide) goes after Local ad dollar$.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Aug 14, 2008
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Huffington Post just proudly announced that they’ll be taking their most excellent news blog web site action to Chicago, and then, ala Risk, taking over a city near you in the near future. For those of us who love HuffPost, including yours truly, that’s great news. Huffington Post is the biggest news blog web site on planet earth, and their new Green and Living (wellness, yoga, etc.) sections will help spread what elephant focuses on, ‘the mindful life,’ to the curious masses. 

But I’m dead-set against this latest move. Why? It will certainly be a great offering to Chicagoians (Chicagonites? Windy Citizens?). But this move is, let’s be clear, about one thing.

You gue$$ed it! 

And the effect of such big media moving into competition for local ad dollars is one thing: it hurts local media. Why do we care? Because independent media is the foundation of Democracy—unlike Mass Media, it’s not bought and paid for, it’s less subject to pressure from outside interests. Here at elephant we can say whatever we like—Whole Foods is for hippie yuppies, Sounds True’s graphics are kinda spiritually-materialistic, Izze sucks for selling to Pepsi, Crocs is run by Republicans (say it ain’t so!)—because The Man ain’t got no power over us. And a far higher percentage of local media is independent. So get ready, Chicago media, you’re about to have yet another carpetbagging national outfit come in and play local, and take away some of your local advertiser ad dollars. 

Here in Boulder, elephant (which has been around for six years) has suffered onslaught after onslaught of money-hungry media interlopers. Some of them, like ReDirect Guide, are great and have great missions. Still, even ReDirect has taken advertisers from little indie elephant, causing us to have a harder time going to (local) press. Where’s my violin, you seen it? Now, Ideal Bite is coming to town. They always start the same way: we’d love to partner! I give them street cred and an ad, they give me…an ad.

Still, let’s face it, this is America. We love making dough, and growing and expanding. So HuffPost may be excused for wanting more. Who doesn’t? I just say, look, if you wanna grow don’t do so at the expense of locals. Do what elephant is doing—go national. Compete with national media for national ad dollars. Don’t pick on the little guys.

Pick on someone your own size.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


15 Responses to “Huffington Post (& Coolhunting & Ideal Bite & ReDirect Guide) goes after Local ad dollar$.”

  1. na says:

    props! independent media competing at a national level… cheers!

  2. Heather says:

    According to Bill McKibben in his latest book, “Deep Economy,” local media is important because it fosters local community. Neighbors actually talk to one another and find out what’s going on in their own neighborhood. Whenever I’m on a roadtrip or visiting a new city, the first thing I do is find the local, indie paper or radio station: it’s the best way to get a feel for where I’m at and find out what’s happening around town.

    Another great way to know a city: . This site offers hundreds of locations, with locals from each one writing about their own neighborhoods. The blogs are specific and often humorous, and give a window into local life.

    But still, there’s nothing like a local paper or radio station to foster the local economy.

  3. DR says:

    Super lame:

    So non-compelling it makes me think people should just be honest and say “We need an edge, support us because we are small and weak and shitty operators. Support us out of pity and shame not because we are better.”

    Dave Q, Hapa, Two hands, cosmo’s, neptune, vic’s… Richards. I want them to go to someone else’s town and crush the feeble retailer who can’t stand to do a good job because he keeps the bar so low and is so lame

    Unsustainable businesses don’t contribute shit to their local community. Local first, you bet but tell me what Boulder Bookstore buys locally that Barnes & Noble doesn’t? They pay the same taxes and are left with more money to do good by being competetive. Tell me one thing Boulder Bookstore does that is better for Boulder than Barnes and Noble?

  4. Waylon says:

    Many big box retailers actually get tax break incentives to move into community that smaller locals don’t get.

  5. Brittney says:

    …it’s Chicagoans.

  6. Bridget says:

    Is your ego really more important than effecting positive change? This is the same type of myopic dogmatism that has hurt the environmental movement in the past, and prooven to be incredibly counterproductive. The fact of the manner is that there are more people than ever have been getting engaged or want to in the environmental movement but they have no idea where to get started. You see, Chicagoans, like myself, do not have the luxury of living in a green utopia like Boulder where the majority of businesses are environmentally responsible. We have had to do an incredible amount of due diligence to find businesses in line with our ethics. There is one magazine Conscious Choice(also multimarket media) which is great for some things yoga, natural health but one would not be able to find a green contractor or solar installer in their directory online. My point is this, there are several media niches that need to be filled, and so far there is not just one entity fulfilling all needs of the emerging green economy. So I say the more the merrier- the more avenues we utilize to connect people to green options the better off we will all be, not just the elitists and green activists who already so inundated in sustainability they have a tendency to forget to bring others along…

  7. na says:

    Bridget, you are correct, but you’re looking for an answer to two issues: environmentalism and media concentration. But this could also be the editorial’s problem… anyway… I don’t know that Elephant is saying they need to be the source on green things, it could be a whole other issue, but it happens to be green. I think they are speaking to the concentration of the media, and how much of a problem this is… just like the concentration of box stores and their impact on culture and the community.

    I agree, the more green the merrier, however… the more media conglomerates going local… the worse. Finding the balance is a tough thing… choose your evil.

  8. Zoe says:

    It seems incredibly hypocritical to me that elephant magazine can simultaneously be focusing on “going national,” set up distribution points all over the country, and complain about another publication stealing your advertisers.

    Every publication you send out of Colorado is doing a disservice to your local advertisers. ReDirect Guide, though headquartered in Portland, distributes only in Colorado because it is supporting Colorado companies.

    Futhermore, it’s each advertiser’s decision to advertise where they like, based on return on investment. If you want to maintain your advertising base, I suggest you make your publication more effective.

  9. admin says:

    Thanks, Zoe, for writing in. I appreciate your passion about what’s most ethical vis a vis supporting local business; it’s a passion I share, as I hope the above post shows, whether I’m on the right track or (as you believe)…not.

    My point is not that big is bad. I think going national is great—if and only if you’re competing with other national publications for national ad dollars. Once we’re national, we will not be, as is Ideal Bite, HuffPost, ReDirect Guide and so many others, competing with local companies for ad dollars. Our ad support will come from national companies.

    Finally, ReDirect does not by any means only distribute in Colorado. Check your facts—they’re on their web site. And again, I’ve nothing against their great mission—or their execution—they’ve grown because they succeed in getting the good word out on green, local companies. I’ve just seen local advertisers support them in Boulder, Colorado, where we only have one surviving local publication that puts any energy into independent, fact-finding journalism, The Boulder Weekly. That kind of journalism is the foundation of an active, responsible Democracy—something we can all get behind.

  10. admin says:

    Oh, and on your last point, Zoe, my complaint isn’t prompted by our publication losing ads—if you’ve seen elephant, we’re chock full of ’em.

    It’s an honest complaint coming from someone who served on the Boulder Coop board only to see it flail and go under. I care about local independent business because I care about our environment, and the accountability of our government.

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