Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Numbers Game

© 2009 Stan Spire

Item #1: Full page ad in the Monday, Sept. 21, 2009 edition of the Jerkwater Journal, the Plattsburgh’s daily newspaper. Another propaganda piece by the NAA, the Newspaper Association of America.


Below the proclamation some people stand in a neat row, each reading the dead trees format.

While acknowledging that “the newspaper business has faced unprecedented challenges” in the last two years, the ad states the newspaper media (print and digital) is still a strong presence and will emerge after the “current environment” as a stronger multi-platform source of information.

Then there’s a breakdown by column with numbers and percentages, e.g., 104 million adults read a newspaper every day, more than the sports idiots who watch the Super Bowl. OK, but how broad is that survey: just the US, or North America, or the Western Hemisphere or just the world? No data is provided on when, where and how that magic 104 was determined.

After talking about percentages of how old reads what or people who say they would buy something seen in the paper, the NAA ad declares: “This is not a portrait of a dying industry…”

Item #2: Article in the New York Times, same date (Sept. 21), page B3. Headline: “Newspapers Have Not Hit Bottom, Analysts Say.”

This article mentions “The drop in combined print and digital ad revenue last year, 16.6 percent… was the worse since the Depression.” But such a decline, states reporter Richard Perez-Pena, is “rosy” compared to 2009 so far: first quarter saw a drop of 28.3 percent, followed by 29 percent in the second quarter.

The source for these figures cited by the NYT? The NAA, of course.

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