The savers who may invest in the Banner


savers have a briefcase full of dough
savers have a briefcase full of dough

Got to wonder if an article  like this (“As weekly paper closes, black community loses a voice: Bay State Banner falls victim to the downturn,”  Boston Globe, June 8 2009) will excite  the saver putting money in a savings account at-a-rate-like-no-other-time-in-history,   enough to pull out some to invest in the Boston Banner?

What will they want to know more to do it and is that explained adequately in the article? Probably not!

Tomorrow, the Banner will likely update with more relevant information about their financial situation.

Used to be that Boston banks who loan money to local businesses to cover receivables and such wanted to see $2 in current cash assets for every $1 of the credit line requested, but perhaps times have changed all that.

Media mongul Rupert Murdoch was quoted recently as saying “newspapers have to charge more for content.”  This is probably right, but then again, his Myspace interactive media property has had huge layoffs recently and the digerati on are saying their comeback against FaceBook is next to impossible, even though Myspace revenue from digital sales stretches towards $500 million a year gross.

So what could the average  Boston Banner reader say to help save the Banner?  They could say “no more free newspapers, charge us and we’ll pay.”  Could be a lesson to be learned considering….

If the Boston Banner closes (let’s hope it doesn’t) there will be a slew of minority-culture  indie  publications attempting to  its place.   I do mean “print”  like sheets of paper, not web sites.

Black media web sites in Boston aren’t  newspapers but a lot of people read them.  The Boston Black web cloud is free from the constraints of journalism theory, although they have learned a few tricks from journalists and reporters.

Predictions on possibilities:

Consider  Color Magazine –  they could take on an expansion to capture some of the print territory the Banner leaves behind if they can handle that financially.  The publication is distributed on the street now and in many locations their boxes sit  right beside the Banner’s.  To do so may encourge them to drop the word “magazine” from their title, print less glossy pages and scratch the word “[diversity] as in  hire-me-I’m colored” from their masthead.

Consider  Unity First, a newspaper/magazine that been going strong for at least 20 years. They have a good audience and had roots in Boston.

Can’t leave this post  without mentioning the Dorchester Reporter newspaper.  DR already covers topics  found in the Banner and its a great paper.

Then there is the unique Black Bostonian newspaper which has its own tribe  and voice… The El Planeta / Boston Latino   media orgs – any of these could become players, but will they?

Probably the best possible outcome for continuing operations at the Banner  is to influence a saver, not the VCs, to jump into the pop and help it break through. So saver, when you do it, take away that word “free” on the Banner’s header  and put a price on it.

Boston will pay for the Banner, I think.


    • Hi Ron, click these links to pull up a few.

      I’ve seen Color Magazine at the Ruggles T stop , in Downtown Crossing, on Centre Street in Jamaica Plain, and a few other places.

      Color Magazine

      The Dorchester Reporter I’ve seen along Blue Hill avenue on the Dorchester Side so I would imagine it is all over Dorchester.

      I haven’t seen a physical copy of Unity First News in Boston for a while. Last time I did was in the Dudley Square area. Its based in Springfield. Its gone digital too which may explain the lack of them on the streets of Boston.

  1. Thanks for pointing out an obvious problem that nobody else speaks of – these papers should be charging for their content. If the community is so distraught over losing the Banner, and any other paper, the least they could have done was subscribe to the paper. How much love do you really have for a paper that you can’t spend .38 cents a week on. I wish I had a dime for everytime someone said to me “why should I pay for it if I can read my mothers, brothers, sisters, friend, etc. for free”. Well – now you know.

    • Thanks Saundra,

      Yes, so true. I asked a person the other day if they knew about the Banner story in the papers and the first thing she said was “I’d pay for it if they charged me.”

      But is there any profit in selling it? Hummm? I think about the book resellers and how they have to deal with unsold inventory; Record labels and Newbury Comics / Best Buy / Walmart big box stores – the returns are huge credits against possible sales revenue expectations.

      I think people will pay for the Banner because there’s nothing like it in town but then again, I’m sure there is a collection cost to empty boxes filled with change or to have resellers pay up when due.

      But, the more people who pay the better.

      A few years ago while looking to the sell “advertising as a agency ” I brought the US Marketing Director of Simon Malls on the phone. At the time they owned the Prudential Mall, the Chestnut Mall and others across the states like them. Maybe they still control the Pru Shops? Well, anyway I scolded him on why I didn’t see ads from the mall shops in the Banner, especially with the foot traffic there comprised of zillions of Banner readers. First he said ” good point, we’ve spent all our Christmas budget but is the paper free?,” he asked me. I said “on the streets it is free but so are the Improper Bostonian, Style Magazine and others..”

      He shouted back “we don’t advertise in FREE newspapers!” but he was cordial about it.

      Well, that was a learning experience. I discovered that a lot of ads sold are on trade, not cash, especially in Boston, due to the tourism economy perhaps? That’s why I stopped doing it. The Boston Globe’s sales reps used to beat the doors down of small shops to sell ads. No trade, just you buy them or you don’t was the rep’s pitch. I can only imagine how expensive is. Saw a classified in the Phoenix for a marketing person. That person was expected to make 50 cold calls a day to sell ad space. That’s a lot!

      I know the Banner has provided plenty of column inches at greatly reduced cost. One organization that benefited from this is named the Boston Black Students Network (BBSN), a fine organization that welcomes hundreds of black college students attending over 20 area colleges and universities to town, whom we’ve supported. at times has had over 500 students involved and I saw a huge ad for them in the Banner that I don’t think they were charged market rate for it.

      I think the Banner’s community support for organizations like them rises above any other publication in town.

      Everybody in the media space thinks about monetization these days. Its hard! This may be why 501(c)3 style non-profits are the business model of choice for arts and cultural organizations. Donors are supporting their overhead. The Banner is a newspaper but many consider it an arts and cultural institution too.

      The Banner as a non-profit institution? Would that work, I wonder?

      • So many great comments and questions – thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. The Banner used to be a paid for publication but about ten years ago when other papers started going free we began to lose circulation. We had about 10,000 readers at that time. Advertising rates are based on circulation so to compete we went free – but had a nationally recognized audit company provide quarterly audits to verify our distribution. We increased circulation to 34,000. Simon Mall did not advertise with us when we were a paid paper, so that’s just an excuse. They advertise in other free papers. This paper and this community has been treated disrespectfully by retail stores, and other advertisers and it has been the most difficult aspect of this job. The Banner has viewed its role as more than just a conveyor of news – we have the best interest of the community at heart and have always donated ad space to the many great organizations that needed help with their promotions (BBSN is one great example). The saddest part of what has happened – besides the obvious – is that we are not able to help out so many great organizations (Mass Mentoring is one example) with their marketing campaigns. We need help from the community when it comes to advertisers. I really really appreciate that you brought to Simons attentiont that they should advertise in the Banner. If enough people were vocal that would be really helpful. We would like to go non profit but that has its problems, too. Would you believe that as a non profit we would not be able to report on political news? Sen. Kerry is tryng to change the requirements for being a non profit newspaper, so we are keeping an eye on that situation. We hope to be able to get back on our feet soon – but we will have to do things differently given the realities of the marketplace. We REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR SUPPORT!! AND YOUR THOUGHTFUL COMMENTS.