If Darwin was around, he would read free online news instead of a print newspaper. That's according to a commercial on a  Saskatchewan radio station promoting its free website. But rather than taking insult at being called a dinosaur, the Prince Albert Daily Herald has embraced its new mascot with an ad campaign of its own.

By Tamara Baluja

Who says newspapers are like dinosaurs? The Prince Albert Daily Herald has brand new mascot, and yes, it is a dinosaur.

It’s evident the print industry is struggling to reinvent itself and find a way to generate revenue in the face of falling advertising doll and a greater push for online content. But still, an extinct animal for a mascot?

“We wanted to show that this dinosaur still has sharp teeth,” the Saskatchewan-based newspaper’s publisher John Morash told J-Source. The advertising campaign started as a counter ad campaign against what the newspaper’s publisher John Morash called a “rather aggressive attack” by Rawlco Radio Ltd., a media company with stations in Alberta and Saskatchewan, which was promoting its free online website PA NOW to the small city of Prince Albert on the bank of the North Saskatchewan River.


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If Darwin was around, he’s probably read a free website rather than buy a newspaper — That’s the gist of the advertisement on Rawlco Radio. “It’s like the natural evolution of news, you know, how newspapers are like dinosaurs,” said Karl Johnston, general manager for PA Now, in a phone interview with J-Source.

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The ad, which ran for about six months according to Johnston, was one of in a series of ad spots which promoted the availability of free news on the PA Now website. The media company doubled the size of its newsroom when it launched PA Now two years, Johnston said, adding the company hired many of the staff from the TC Media-owned Prince Albert Daily Herald and Rural Roots.

Johnston says the long-term advertising campaign has been a success for PA Now. “We’re taking advantage of the public perceptions that newspapers are old news,” he said. “And today’s public expects news to be free.”

Rather than taking insult at being called a dinosaur, the Prince Albert Daily Herald has embraced its new mascot with an ad campaign of its own.The Prince Albert Daily Herald responded with teaser ads showing a dinosaur claw or an eyeball on the front pages. It then ran full-page advertisements with information from Newspapers Canada on print circulation statistics, and also created cheeky dinosaur themed ads showing a T-Rex munching on a radio tower.  He plans to continue the dinosaur ad campaign with ideas like a bumper sticker reading “Daily Dino Reader.”

“This aggressive attack really was out of character for our northern rural community,” Morash said, “and it wasn’t appreciated by anyone.” The newspaper’s reach has “never been higher” with 185,000 readers weekly and it has “very loyal readers,” he said.

Morash acknowledges that circulation is not what it used to be, but argues the appetite for news is still there. “If you put something on the front page, it becomes the news that everyone talks about,” he said.  

*Correction: This article has been updated from a previous version that said PA NOW hired staff let go by Prince Albert Daily Herald and Rural Roots. 

Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.