“We acknowledge your valued order” (PIP #6)
By Louise Peloquin
Our second peek into the past, “Judging us by our work,” posted on October 3rd, quoted Louis-A. Biron’s youngest child Marthe speaking about her father’s journalistic “independence of thought.” It was protected by revenue acquired from printing services.
Popping up here and there among L’Etoile’s columns, the following insert lists a variety of items.
Do you need
Labels, all kinds
Invoices, all kinds
Envelopes of all kinds
Sales booklets with duplicates
Menus, Etc., Etc.
L’Etoile Publishing Company (1)
Biron advertised his own business but he also needed ads from others. Marthe talks about advertising.
French newspaper circulation was never huge. In order to support the newspapers, it was necessary to solicit advertisements at 35 cents an inch, often going door to door in the quest…
With the newspapers, politicians and professionals seized the opportunity to rally votes and drum up business among the Franco-American readership. The budget from their ads was minimal.
Moreover, the newspaper exempted parishes from the cost of printing weekly bulletins. But their promoting, the newspaper was forbidden….
The newspaper team members persevered… and functioned like centipedes, from linotype to press, from typing to correcting proofs, in the search of advertisers.
A constantly renewed miracle, the paper managed to appear…with its message of life, its message of hope. (2)
Once the ads procured, L’Etoile followed through by encouraging readers to patronize the businesses in question.
Reserve your purchases for
The establishments which Publish
Their Advertisements in
You will be better served and you will
Serve your newspaper by maintaining it (3)
Canvassing for ads, publishing ads and encouraging “the establishments” appearing in L’Etoile, all made for a virtuous circle. The French term entraide, meaning mutual aid, comes to mind.
L’Etoile took a serious professional approach to advertising. Each business which entrusted the newspaper with an ad received the following letter, in English.
Here it is, in the interest of clarity.
Established 1886 Telephone 2290
The Oldest French Daily in New England
24-26 Prince Street
We acknowledge with thanks the receipt of your valued order for advertising space in our BUSINESS REVIEW PAGE.
During the twenty-six weeks that this page is to run, you will be entitled to a reading-notice or “Write-Up” each month without extra charge. We will be glad to receive any material or suggestion you may desire to have paper either in your advertisement or in the reading-notices.
Herewith enclosed please find the duplicate copy of your order for your records.
With renewed thanks and highest regards,
While L’Etoile’s team certainly “valued” advertising “orders,” not all indiscriminately made it to print. Biron refused to publish ads for establishments which did not meet his moral standards. He rejected those which appeared to serve their own bottom line regardless of potential clients’ well-being.
Excerpts from a draft signed by Biron make this clear. It states:
Dear Mr. _______,
I received your letter and explain myself. I understand your position. It is difficult for L’Etoile to give you satisfaction.
He goes on to express concern for his readership – the hard-working Franco-American families he served.
Without being privy to the work which your society does for the Franco-Americans, we have observed… abuse of power…
I do not believe in…charging… exorbitant fees… in order to grow… One must not be naive. (4)
Details regarding this refusal to print an ad need not be exposed here. Suffice it to say that Biron was known never to compromise. Although fewer ads brought short-term losses for L’Etoile, staying true to his ethical code was Biron’s long-term investment.
1) Translation by Louise Peloquin.
2) Quotations from an interview of Marthe Biron Peloquin in “The Franco-American Press in New England (1865-1929)” by Stéphanie Rabin. Master’s Degree dissertation for the University of Paris Sorbonne,1995. Page 68. Translation from French by Louise Peloquin.
3) Translation by Louise Peloquin.
4) Translation by Louise Peloquin.