Our Voices

A PRESSING MISSION

Communications Project Manager
Havas Media Group recently joined Protect Our Press, a national initiative for agencies, brands, publishers, and individuals focused on preserving trusted local news.

Here, Ben Downing, Global Managing Director, Ethical Media & Strategic Partnerships, tells Dare! all about the initiative, what joining the initiative involves and why Havas Media Group chose to participate.

Tell us a little bit about the Protect Our Press initiative.

Protect Our Press,  is a national initiative for agencies, brands, publishers, and individuals centred on preserving trusted local news. HMG’s Meaningful Media in the Time of COVID-19 report showed consumers turning to quality media as a source of truth, with local news serving as the most trusted media source with growth in consumption amongst younger demographics. Despite this reality, newsrooms continue to experience declines in revenue and ad spend, alongside record-breaking employee layoffs. More than 1,300 communities across the U.S. are classified as local “news deserts (Source),” and 20% of all newspapers have closed in the last 15 years. To combat this decline, Protect Our Press aims to prioritise and reinvest advertising spending in local newsrooms.

What does joining the initiative involve?

By joining Protect Our Press, Havas Media Group pledges to:

  • Invest a meaningful percent of its programmatic advertising spend to direct or collective news buys, including the removal of high quality, brand safe news publishers from exclusion lists.
  • Evaluate direct deals with local newspapers through inclusion in the RFP process.
  • Commit to maintaining support levels for media buys already invested in local journalism.
  • Encourage individuals to sign up for paid subscriptions to their local digital or print publication.

“Advertisers must understand the importance of forging the path to a more equitable, ethical, and truth-based media landscape. By joining Protect our Press we are making a commitment to support quality journalism.”

Why did Havas Media Group choose to participate?

Local News embodies Meaningful Media in the most significant sense – trusted, engaging, and influential media which really matters to the community it serves. In today’s digital world people have more access to information and perspectives than ever before and while this provides an opportunity and platform to previously marginalized people and untold stories, it also enables misinformation to erode a shared sense of truth and facts, as well as hateful perspectives on the fringes to gain broader reach and impact. Professional news offers the integrity of verified information. Advertisers must understand the importance of forging the path to a more equitable, ethical, and truth-based media landscape. By joining Protect our Press we are making a commitment to support quality journalism.

Which other organisations have joined the initiative?

To date, POP has announced support from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), but only one other ad agency, explicitly: Boston-based Allen & Gerritsen (A&G launched the initiative).

How does this commitment build on Havas Media Group’s existing work through its Meaningful Marketplaces?

Committing to Protect our Press builds on Havas’ existing work on Meaningful Marketplaces which reduces sell-side fees for publishers and Media Partners, as well as guaranteeing 100% transparency for sellers the programmatic value chain and work to remove blocklists and harmful exclusion from News Media.

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