You’ve heard the phrase: If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.
That phrase is no longer true.
I’m not a fear-monger or a negative person, so it’s taken me a while to figure out how or if I should write about this, but I decided I must.
One of the first things Vladimir Putin did in the early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was to shut down independent media. He did that because local journalism — real journalism that is edited and fact-checked — is part of democracy.
In Canada, we may feel our democratic society is not at risk and that support of local journalism doesn’t matter. I disagree. If the business community doesn’t support local media, it will lead to the decay of authentic journalism. And that puts democracy at risk.
It’s not necessarily a duck just because it looks like one.
Last week we became aware that an off-shore company is using bots to steal Edify’s content — as well as content from some of Edmonton’s food bloggers, some of whom also contribute to and are paid by our magazine — to sell digital marketing opportunities. If a business isn’t paying attention, they may think they are supporting local by buying those digital ads.
And, we’ve known for a while that an American company is operating in Edmonton with a community “magazine.” Not only is that company not local, it doesn’t follow any journalistic standards; it pushes advertisers into multi-year contracts and then threatens a lawsuit if the advertiser wants to cancel. I’m not talking about a contract for an ad that already ran — the company will not let you cancel an ad that’s booked many months in the future. Such business practice is not ethical.
As a business owner in Edmonton, I urge you to be discerning about where you are putting your advertising dollars.
If Edify isn’t for you, then look at some other local publishers for your print buys (yes, print does work.) Consider The Tomato or Info Edmonton. Mary Bailey and Rob Tanner are also long-time publishers in Edmonton who have supported and elevated our city. And, like Edify, they offer print and digital advertising to an engaged, local audience.
If you aren’t discerning, you could be feeding a decoy.