Advertising policy

Our goal at The Lansing Journal is to be a newspaper for all of Lansing, providing information without regard for income or influence. To that end, our advertising policy makes a distinction between paid advertising and free content.

Regarding advertising and content

1. An ad is different from an article.

A newspaper is an information delivery vehicle. When you buy an ad, you are renting space in that vehicle. You can use that space to communicate whatever message you choose. Through your “rental fee” (the cost of the ad) you are also hiring us to publish that message and deliver it to our readers.

2. You can buy an article, but that’s called “Sponsored Content,” not news.

Buying an ad doesn’t guarantee that we’ll write an article about you. This is key. In fact, it’s foundational to the purpose and value of a community newspaper. When content is paid for by people who want to share their own message, that piece becomes a marketing flyer rather than a newspaper — and readers can tell the difference. A news article is our perspective, our research, our impressions, our wording. The businesses, churches, schools, and individuals who have been featured in our pages have had to trust us to represent them accurately. Yes, we want the subject of an article to be pleased with what we write, but our first goal is to convey useful information to the public. If coverage can be bought, we lose our credibility, and the community loses an independent source of information.

There is, however, a style of advertising we call “Sponsored Content,” which is a hybrid of news and advertising. Our advertising policy demands that we clearly label Sponsored Content so readers will know that someone has paid us to help them share that information.

3. Articles are more trusted than ads.

Precisely because articles can’t be bought, readers are more likely to trust an article than an ad.

4. Ads have the advantage of repetition.

Ads live on our website for a week or a month at a time, so visitors see your message repeatedly. Articles are delivered to subscribers once, so most of the views happen within the first day or two after publication.

5. Ads sometimes lead to articles.

Sometimes we become aware of news because an organization approaches us to buy an ad. We often spend significant time with our advertisers, helping them craft their ad message and design. Through that process, sometimes we get story ideas.

6. With a small, local newspaper, it can be easy to confuse advertising with articles.

At a larger newspaper, the line between advertising and articles is very clear. The two departments are staffed with different people, and they are often located on opposite ends of the building. If you have a story idea, you contact an editor. If you want to run an ad, you contact a sales rep at a different phone number and email address. Large newspapers are careful about making a distinction between news and ads, for the reasons explained in point 2, above.

The Lansing Journal is a small, community newspaper, and it’s more difficult to keep that distinction clear because many of us are doing more than one job. If a reporter interviews you for an article, and then stops by to pick up a check for the ad you want to run, it can feel like you bought both the article and the ad. We apologize for that confusion, and we admit we’re not sure how to avoid it right now. We hope publishing this advertising policy helps.

7. Ads pay for articles.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that advertising revenue is what keeps a newspaper going. Those advertising dollars are what we use to pay our reporters, host our website, and deliver our Daily News email. So even though you can’t buy an article, when you buy an ad, you help make articles possible. You are helping to fund a community newspaper that benefits the whole community, including your organization.

8. Advertising in a community newspaper is a community service.

Yes, many of our advertisers have told us they get good response when they advertise in The Lansing Journal, and we appreciate knowing that our vehicle is delivering your message effectively. We also appreciate advertisers who understand that their ads have a larger purpose too, who advertise precisely because they value having a community newspaper. We appreciate their understanding, and we are grateful for their support.

Regarding print advertising and layout

The only specific space that can be reserved for an ad in a print edition of The Lansing Journal is the back page. Other ad placements are chosen during the layout process based on size, whether the ad is color or black-and-white, and juxtaposition with news content as well as other advertisers. For example, we do our best not to have multiple restaurant ads on the same page. And we try to be sensitive to the types of ads that appear on our obituaries page. But because of the variety of factors that influence layout — often at the last minute — we cannot guarantee specific page placement for any advertisement.

In addition, we do not allow advertising on the first two pages of The Lansing Journal, and the third page will contain not more than 50% advertising. Our purpose is to set the tone of The Lansing Journal as a news source, distinct from an ad paper or marketing circulars.


Questions about any of these policies may be directed to Melanie Jongsma, Publisher: