Thursday, June 04, 2009

Can Boosters Save “News-sters?”

About 8 years ago, a group over in Raleigh formed a group to pre-sell enough season tickets for its Hurricanes hockey team to double from a base of 6,000 to about 12,000. This was pre-Stanley Cup and ostensibly there was fear there that the NHL Hurricanes might relocate.

The group set its sights on Durham of course not only because Durham has its share of hockey fans but because of the major employers based here. They played the “R” card, arguing the team was a “regional” asset because people from miles around attend. (Using that logic of course, everything in Durham would be a regional asset.)

Any questions asked or critical thinking was deemed unpatriotic. What questions should have been asked? “Is this free money or will it be diverted from another cause? “What will Raleigh do in return for Durham?” “Is this a precedent and will any business or organizations in need be able to use the same approach?”

The tickets were sold and the Hurricanes are safely nestled over in Raleigh. Durham hockey fans can easily run over there for games. Even though hockey lags far behind basketball, football and baseball (MLB and MiLB) in attendance, the Raleigh team has earned a loyal following.

Today, local newspapers seem to be in trouble everywhere. And believe me, losing the local paper is far more damaging than losing a sports team. I wonder why groups aren’t forming to do something similar for that type of business. That would likely mean doubling the advertising base or subscriptions, a type of “season ticket.”

Of course, there is one hairy little problem…while it is true, daily papers are community assets, the Raleigh paper continues to try to divert support from the Durham paper. Maybe a cease fire is in order while both papers focus on their respective primary coverage areas and get back on their feet.

The local newspaper is a powerful part of a community’s identity.

So come on Raleigh, help us save Durham’s local newspaper. Purchase some advertising, buy a subscription. Joking…that just wouldn’t be Durham.

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