Does Your Spending Reflect Your Values?

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Whether you’re buying supplies for your company or organization or paying for household goods as a consumer, you may be inadvertently backing principles that are abhorrent to you.

An informal poll shows area leaders and consumers prefer to support, in order, 1) locally owned businesses, 2) companies with local offices and payrolls right in the community and 3) firms that put into practice the same deeply and long-held social and political philosophies. Old habits and misinformation, however, often means considerable spending that is exactly opposite of these values.

The same is true for media purchases—be it advertising buys or a news subscription.

As WHAV’s new FM station approaches its first anniversary on the air, a number of listeners have recently discovered jarring conflicts between their values and their wallets. Here are two examples, among many, that have recently been brought to the attention of WHAV. Names and circumstances have been changed to protect identities.

Until recently, David cringed at less than respectful opinions reflected by a publication his family has received for generations. He held his nose and rationalized his annual subscription by saying he needed to know what was happening in his community. When news reporting shrank along with pages, David again justified his support, chalking up the decline in local news to changes in the print industry.

Then, David discovered WHAV’s on-air and online local news. He learned WHAV provides more local news, more often, than anyone else. He could freely share that day’s news links on his Facebook page since his followers would not be blocked from reading them if they lacked a subscription. More importantly, David did his research and found WHAV was the only media that was locally owned, had a local office in his community and carried programs that matched his civic values. It was a non-profit to boot.

Gloria prided herself on breaking through the glass-ceiling and becoming the leader of a major, local nonprofit organization. She wanted her organization to reflect her social and political values regarding equal opportunity, volunteerism, living wages, diversity, labor and more.

She recoiled, however, when she found her organization’s expensive advertising appearing opposite an opinion column that reinforced divisive racial and religious stereotypes—exactly counter to the message she has been trying to send to the community. Paying closer attention over the next few weeks, Gloria was struck by other opinion columns based on false equivalences and seemingly giving tacit or actual support to positions repugnant to her.

Despite moving to the top of her organization, Gloria inherited an old hierarchy that quietly worked against her goals. At the risk of being accused or micromanagement, she asked why her marketing team specified the out-of-state-owned publication. She received the usual answers—it is the only one reaching our targets, it has the largest circulation, “we’ve always done it” and the regional head of that medium is “influential.”

“Does it have offices in our target cities?” she asked. “Um, no,” she was told. “Do they use our news releases?” Again, the answer was an unconvincing “Well, sometimes, if they have room.”

On her own, she pulled the audience numbers and compared them with other media in the area. The media where her organization was placing advertising had comparatively few followers and little influence. She casually asked why another news outlet—locally owned, having local offices and with the largest following—received little of the organization’s ad spending. She listened to much hearsay and heard obvious myths, but received few documented facts.

Her decision is pending.

As the only Haverhill-based news source, 97.9 WHAV FM delivers the largest local audience ever assembled. Support the only locally owned news media with your subscriptions and underwriting.