Over the past several months especially, I have used this column space to open up to readers about everything from this newspaper’s struggles to how, after more than a year in the woods with an uncertain future, in 2017 we finally secured the team and funding necessary to steer Dig Media Group into uncharted territories. Having to spend most of my time on editing and management duties these days—doing payroll, writing grant proposals, other utter nightmares of that lumbering variety—my weekly note is one of the few chances I get to share my own thoughts and ideas at lengths longer than I indulge in my social media rants.
On that note, I’m using these inches on the eve of Small Business Saturday to ask for your money. Plus your contacts and connections. It’s never easy to do, and I frankly wish that I could just talk about things like music and police militarization, but something has to pay for that, so please bear with me…
As you must have realized, the Dig, like most other free papers and mags around the country, relies heavily on advertising to pay for the journalism we do on everything from the arts to City Hall. There are costs you’d never realize from the outside, including but not limited to distribution, and the burden is obviously greater since we don’t charge for the tens of thousands of issues we drop around town, or for our online content either, for that matter. Sorry to lecture, but I finally decided to issue this general request that you, the readers we do this for, start thinking about the Dig in ways that you may not have already considered.
Last month, a friend whom I have known for years mentioned that he controlled the advertising budget at the local cultural institution he works at. Since I’m in the media, he asked where might some good places be to advertise an upcoming event that they were having. “Uh, you’re kidding, right?” I said. “I’m obviously going to say DigBoston, since we are squarely in your demographic.” To which he replied, “Oh, man, I never really thought of you guys like that. But yeah, I should totally spend some of the advertising bundle with you.”
I have had other experiences that were similar, and whenever we then end up securing a paid contract that benefits the Dig, I regret not having proposed that we do some business sooner. It’s kind of like if you had wanted to hook up with your roommate for months, and then suddenly one day they turn to you and say, “I am a total nymphomaniac, but I wish that I could get laid in my own apartment so I didn’t have to travel across town three times a day.”
And so with Small Business Saturday this week, I don’t just want to remind readers to empty out their pockets at local establishments, but to especially support those that support community and independent media. Better yet, please tell your friends who hold the reins on advertising budgets and who have and work at businesses themselves to contact us at email@example.com. I wouldn’t bring it up if all the journalism that we do didn’t depend on it.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.