Lies, damned lies and newspaper circulation figures

Or as media wags would say: Thank God We're a Two-Newspaper Town (tm). Yes, the latest circulation figures are out.

The Globe says God, we're awesome - our numbers are so strong it's like we took a double dose of Cialis.

OK, OK, yeah, technically, dead-tree circulation continued to drop like a rock tied to an anchor, but, hey, digital subscriptions count now, and they're up, and we're up, so knock it off. Real shame about the losers over at the Herald, the Globe adds:

The Boston Herald's daily circulation fell below 100,000 in the period. The tabloid's circulation declined by 14.9 percent to 96,860, compared to same period a year ago, according to the bureau. The Herald's Sunday circulation was 77,764, down 9.4 percent.

Over at New Wingo Square, though, the Herald advises the Globe to shut the frick up: Herald sees readership spike:

The reach of the Boston Herald is greater than ever before as the brand of its quality journalism is showing strong growth across digital platforms.

The numbers tell the story: Print readership up 15 percent daily over last year to nearly a half-million. A whopping 47 percent growth in weekly e-edition readers. An impressive 2.6 million unique visitors a month to, an 18 percent spike over last year.

The scrappy tabloid adds:

The shift in the media landscape has the Herald counting broadcast and digital platforms as top competitors in the new marketplace as opposed to the Boston Globe, which dropped 11 percent of daily readers in Scarborough Research comparisons.



Free tagging: 


Well, there's your first

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Well, there's your first mistake: "as the brand of its quality journalism is showing strong growth across digital platforms."

not necessarily....

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They just said their "brand of quality journalism" not actual "good quality" journalism or "responsible, accurate" jopurnalism....
...and you know fetid horseshit is de rigueur these days...


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gettin all meta

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Of course I have a typo in my complaint about shitty journalism....which I'll leave in there uncorrected as a sort of scarlet letter which I must wear. If I do it again I'll be forced to get a Herald subscription (god knows they call me often enough trying to get me to sign up for one).

Nice math, Herald!

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Do the math. The 97000 circulation Herald has lost 14.9% of its circulation in one year, so last year it was about 115,000. If print "readership" is almost 500,000 now, that means 5 people are clustered around each and every copy of the Herald. And if that's up 15% from last year, then last year's Herald had fewer than 3 readers per copy. Really? Even though sales have plummeted?

It won't be long before they have 500,000 readers passing around their last remaining copy.


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I usually find the Herald on the floor of the bathroom stall at work, so yeah, that sounds accurate.

So who's right?

The stories directly contradict each other. One or both of them are wrong.

Very, very wrong

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Not only is one of them wrong, but one of them wrong by almost an order of magnitude. I don't know how you can have reported circulation of ~100K and ~500K without there being something completely broken in how one of them is reporting their own numbers.

Unless the Herald is handing out free copies at every T station and counting it toward their circulation totals, a la the Metro? Even that doesn't explain a 500% difference in claims.

Readership vs. sales

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The Herald is touting "readership," a fuzzy number provided by research alleging how many people read each copy of the paper. The Audit Bureau of Circulations is counting each copy sold when it reports print circulation. So in order to have readership matching the Herald's claims, 5 people have to read each copy of the Herald that's sold every day.

But the digital circulation, also reported by ABC, is also very fuzzy math. If you access the digital paper only once per month, you're counted as a constant reader. If you get the daily Globe delivered and also read occasionally, are you counted twice? I don't know. You can read all the arcane rules here:


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The Herald is counting what we, who used to work in the publishing industry called "pass-along" readership, usually a number derived from a reader survey. "How many others than you typically read your copy of "X".

I do seem to find many more copies of the Herald lying around in places like restaurants and bars, that are picked up and read by others, but there's no way that someone who origanally purchased a copy could know how many other people are reading it.

No link to see the actual

No link to see the actual numbers. In any case, the entire industry has a history of grossly distorting their numbers, aided and abetted by the reporting services.

At least the Herald is entertaining

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I stopped paying to read the Globe a few years ago when I got tired of reading "news" that was basically a reprint of the mayor's press releases. I figure anything that's important enough for me to read will be on the public site or referenced here at UH - now the best source of Boston news and commentary in town.

If I see something that I absolutely have to read in the paid print or online editions, the office has a subscription and I'll read about 2 artices a month in there.

If news is amusing

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it ain't news, it's infotainment. And it's value isn't exactly in keeping someone informed.


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Bostonians should be thrilled that a city that ranks something like #25 in terms of population can support 2 major dailies, not to mention regional dailies like the Metro, T & G, Ledger, etc. Thumbing through something other than the Globe doesn't paint you as racist or white trash; it demonstrates that you have the critical thinking skills necessary to form your own opinion.

I don't necessarily agree with Howie Carr most of the time, nor do I fawn over the Inside Track. I am a college educated professional who has been a proud Herald reader since elementary school. Unlike other local papers, the Herald doesn't bash my religion, hometown, college, or political candidates. It's my $1 and I'll gladly put my money where my mouth is every single day.

Be proud that we're a two newspaper town.

I wonder how many of these

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I wonder how many of these Globes are still going to customers who tried to cancel home delivery because of the crappy billing department.

I thought it was just me who

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I thought it was just me who hated the Globes billing method. Every month is different, I gave up trying to find the true amount I owe since the paper bill is different from the amount I see when I log in to the web site (member services).

I've subscribed to the Globe for 30yrs now and I'm finally thinking of calling it quits. Except, I really like the guy that delivers, always on time, always wrapped in plastic for rain and he's just plain nice. I assume he's doing it for extra money so that is another reason why I still subscribe, that's one less customer the delivery guy has.
Anyone whose read the Globe for a long time must notice the changes over the years. Less actual reporting and the standards have dropped remarkably. But there's still something about reading an actual newspaper...

I do like the Heralds web site much better than the Globes. I've always disliked layout.

Globe's Billing Department

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I agree - They're awful. I paid for three month and they only credited me for a month. It took lots of phone calls to get it fixed. If you carry on enough they finally give you the one person who knows what she's doing. What a way to treat your most loyal customers.

Globe numbers less funny, he says

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Dan Kennedy evaluates the numbers, notes the Globe relied on ABC, whose numbers are public and generally accepted as the gold standard for such things, while the Herald relied on a report only people who pay for it can see.