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Since newspapers are ‘ancient,’ city should advertise solely online, Luhning says

Coun. Luhning introduced a motion that asks city administration to review all existing bylaws that deal with advertising with local media outlets
Luhning, D 3b
Coun. Dawn Luhning. File photo

Since newspapers are “ancient and outdated,” the City of Moose Jaw should conduct its advertising on social media since that’s where everyone congregates, Coun. Dawn Luhning believes.

Luhning — who made it clear last April that she didn’t “give a rat’s ass” what the Moose Jaw Express/MooseJawToday.com thought about city council’s virtual meetings — introduced a motion during the Jan. 25 regular meeting that asks city administration to review all existing bylaws that deal with advertising with local and area media outlets.

Council unanimously approved the motion.

A report based on this motion could come to city council by the first meeting in March, according to city manager Jim Puffalt.

‘Ancient and outdated’

Provincial legislation binds all municipalities to adhere to certain advertising requirements, while those same entities must also follow The Cities Act with advertising issues such as bylaw changes or zoning amendments, Luhning said.  

Using social media to advertise and harnessing other types of advertising methods is not a new thing, which means council should re-evaluate how it promotes these issues, so residents receive information more efficiently, she continued. Council needs to look at where most people go for their information and where the city could reach a wider array of people.

“And in keeping with the times we’re in, I believe it’s important for city council to review the pieces of The Cities Act and other legislation that requires us to advertise in any type of local newspaper or otherwise, as this is becoming a bit of an ancient and outdated reach to all citizens in the community,” Luhning remarked. “And I think we need to expand that.”

Craig Hemingway, communications manager, confirmed to council that city hall spends money regularly advertising with the radio station. While the municipality doesn’t use social media often to advertise, it sometimes uses boosted ads for particular campaigns.

Using social media to advertise is simply another way to continue to modernize how the city does business while bringing the organization into 2021, said Coun. Crystal Froese. She thought it was important to take advantage of opportunities to advertise with social media and online, but agreed that policies need to be reviewed.

Froese added that since not everyone is on social media, the city could distribute mail-outs to households.

While council might feel good about how it communicates with people, it’s difficult — if not harder than ever — in today’s environment to find one medium that reaches everyone, said Coun. Heather Eby. It used to be newspapers and radio that had the greatest reach; now it’s other methods.

“I do think it will be good to review this, but I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all (approach) anymore … ,” she continued. “(However), this type of review might say something that none of us are expecting. It might still be print media to get bylaw reviews out or radio for certain things … .  

“We think social media is the be-all, end-all — mmm, I have my doubts on that.”

Not everyone has or is on social media, agreed Coun. Doug Blanc. He has many friends who quit social media and now use their devices to send emails to their children. They don’t even use technology to visit local news outlets or provincial and national outlets.

Since the municipality still sends out regular water bills, Blanc thought council could include messages in those mail-outs.

“So I think we have to look at absolutely every avenue out there, right from radio to the weekly newspaper … ,” he said, adding whether council agrees with the review or not, members have to look at ways to reach residents, so the latter know what’s happening.

The next regular council meeting is Monday, Feb. 1.