Thursday, May 11, 2006

The unwillingness of some newspapers to report on themselves, or, "Mr. Publisher, heal thyself!"

Every 6 months, new circulation numbers come out for the nation's daily newspapers, and every 6 months, the newspapers report on these numbers.

The figures lately have been discouraging, especially since the Audit Bureau of Circulation has tightened up its, ahem, regulations.

Read these circulation stories carefully because they are Exhibit # 1 when it comes to the laughable double standard the media employs when it reports on itself.

If the Houston daily, for example, had received a press release from another institution that contained the verbiage that the Chronicle put out about itself, an editor would have scanned it, seen that circulation was down the past 6 months and told a reporter, "Here's the lede. Call up a few experts and get some reaction. Don't let 'em BS you."

But since the item in question is about its own self, the Houston daily looks to its publisher, who will put his own "spin" on the story and order it put in the paper exactly like that.

(See Slampoand blogHouston.)

There will be some eye rolling in the newsroom by a few editors and reporters, but they'll just sigh and go back to their computer solitaire because, really, what're you gonna do?

We'll tell you.

Call up everyone's favorite newspaper analyst, John Morton, and then get a local journalism professor on the phone, and then call up someone in the local advertising industry.

Ask them, "What the heck's going on?"

Is that so much to ask?

Look, the sky is not falling on the Houston daily. It has a monopoly. It remains in the Top 10 of the country's daily newspaper circulation. But there's something nasty in the woodshed. Go ahead and tell us, the great unwashed masses who don't understand the complex newspaper industry, what's behind the falling circulation numbers.

(It has something to do with the Internets, we hear, and maybe about young people don't read much anymore, allegedly.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They lost my subscription when they gave Mallard Fillmore the boot.