Editor & Publisher
How convenient. Via Editor and Publisher, the newspaper industry's Audit Bureau of Circulations, in issuing its March 31, 2011 circulation figures, tells us we shouldn't try to compare this year's numbers to last year's:
Because of the new and redefined categories of circulation on this FAS-FAX report, ABC recommends not making any direct comparisons of March 2011 data to prior audit periods.
As readers will see, if the ABC was really interested in enabling us to make apples-to-apples comparisons, it could have done so with appropriate definitional caveats. But it didn't; instead, it revised its definition of "total circulation" this year without disclosing the impact of the switch.
With the demise of the Editor and Publisher this week, many media commentators are nostalgic for the hard-nosed trade journalism the newspaper industry publication often engaged in. E&P's strength was always in its core mission of reporting news industry trends. In its latter years, like a number of other outlets, it began to stray off-course into garden-variety, hypocritical leftist media criticism.
Greg Mitchell, E&P's editor since 2002, consistently called for newspapers to print more opinion in their coverage of major world events. Most notably during the Israel-Hamas conflict early this year, Mitchell lamented that media outlets were not taking sides.
"[A]fter more than eight days of Israeli bombing and Hamas rocket launching in Gaza, The New York Times had produced exactly one editorial, not a single commentary by any of its columnists, and two op-eds," he complained at the Huffington Post.
Now one of Maryland's two Democratic US senators thinks he has come up with a way to subsidize and save them -- while simultaneously turning them into house organs for his party.
Ben Cardin (picture at right is from his Senate web site) has introduced "The Newspaper Revitalization Act," would accomplish the just-described goals by allowing papers to convert themselves into not-for-profit entities, providing them tax breaks, and .... prohibiting editorials.
Those who know establishment media reporting know that editorial commentary will then become the sole province of left-leaning beat reporters pretending to be strictly fact-based in their supposedly straight news stories and "analyses," while traditional newspaper editorials, which against all odds still seem to lean barely to the right when averaged out nationwide, will disappear.
Here's how Thomas Ferraro of Reuters describes what Cardin has cooked up:
It is pretty tough to find someone in the media, no matter how liberal, spinning in favor of ACORN which has been widely recognized for perpetrating voter fraud on a mass scale. However, one Glenn W. Smith manages to attempt ACORN spin in an Editor & Publisher column. First Smith tries to turn the tables by alleging that it is Repubicans, not ACORN, that is engaged in vote fraud by "unfairly" pointing out violations (emphasis mine):
The New York Times took the unusual step of quickly editing and replacing a hysterical post by hockey blogger Lynn Zinser that covered Sarah Palin's appearance at the Philadelphia Flyers home opener where she was invited to drop a ceremonial puck. In her original post Zinser exaggerated the boos by the crowd, attacked Flyers owner Ed Snider for inviting Palin to the event and appears to have fabricated the discomfort felt by NHL players Scott Gomez and Mike Richards.
That account has since been changed. Somewhere along the line Zinser gutted the original article and replaced it with a new one that came a bit closer to reality. However the repost didn't occur before the original article shot across the internet where it was eventually picked up by Greg Mitchell at Editor & Publisher and flogged as a "political scoop". (update below: Rangers Scott Gomez voting for McCain-Palin)
Many Americans have a negative image of journalists and it is one that is growing in believability and acceptance every day, especially as the New Media begins to attract more and more attention from the American people. This image of the aloof, even anti-American, journalist is becoming rote with more people all the time. Sadly, the journalists themselves seem to be uninterested in countering this appalling public image, imagining themselves above being considered mere Americans. On this subject, a recent op ed by Mark Fitzgerald of Editor & Publisher warns journalists that perception is often truth and that the penchant that journalists have for not standing proudly and patriotically during the National Anthem does not help their image any -- good advice that will be roundly ignored by journalists the country over.
Fitzgerald starts off with a bit of an untruth of his own, though I am not accusing him of knowingly perpetrating a falsehood. Saying that "There's no cheering in the press box," Fitzgerald goes on to describe journalists are perennially uninvolved and aloof from the subject of which they report. At some level this may be correct. Certainly when journalists, notoriously left-wing, cover conservatives and Republicans there is no cheering. But, as the recent example during the 2008 National Democratic Convention shows, when it is left-wing, journalists have no problem at all cheering. One need not forget the fawning the media lovingly handed to Bill Clinton to prove the cheerleading they are apt to, either.
Still, that quibble aside, Fitzgerald has a great point about how the unpatriotic attitude of journalists damages their profile. Worse, it makes people doubt journalist's work simply because their word isn't trusted not to be coming from an anti-American perspective.
Ken Shepherd of NewsBusters posted Tuesday on Editor and Publisher's March 11 article listing the four-year circulation changes at the nation's top 20 newspapers, concentrating on the 20% loss at the Los Angeles Times during that period.
What's also compelling is that the Top 20 really has three winners and 17 losers during that four-year time frame, as the chart that follows demonstrates:
Although a recent Sacred Heart University poll indicated 45.4 percent of respondents thought journalists and broadcasters are mostly or somewhat liberal - the bias isn't ideologically driven according to Newsweek editor Jon Meacham.
Meacham appeared on Comedy Central's January 21 "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and told viewers the media gear reporting toward conflict.
"I absolutely believe that the media is not ideologically driven, but conflict driven," Meacham said. "If we have a bias it's not that people are socially liberal, fiscally conservative or vice versa. It is that we are engaged in the storytelling business. And if you tell the same story again and again and again - it's kind of boring."
Editor & Publisher editor Greg Mitchell is hot on the trail with a year long E&P tribute to local newspapers that are covering "the shocking number of suicides among U.S. troops in Iraq or after they return home". At first I figured this was a strange tribute to be making, especially considering that Mitchell didn't bother to present any facts when implying that the war is to blame for such tragic deaths.
Here's something America's media should be proud of: 64 percent of people surveyed do not trust press coverage of the presidential campaign.
Want to know the really inconvenient truth?
The study, done by Harvard University's Center for Public Leadership, was performed in September before the recent CNN Democrat presidential debate debacle in Las Vegas.
Just imagine what those numbers would look like now.
The following highlights of the survey were reported by Editor & Publisher Wednesday (emphasis added throughout, h/t NB reader CloseAll):
It is understandable, but not forgivable, that business reporters at Old Media newspapers might think that the economy is in bad shape. They first have to get past how poorly most of their employers are doing. The industry as a whole has not been doing well, and it's been that way for quite some time.
This table illustrates that point (September 30, 2007 figures are at this post, which originally came from this Editor & Publisher article, which will soon disappear behind its firewall; March 31, 2005 figures were estimated in reverse using annual percentage changes reported as of March 31, 2006, because older data I thought would remain available no longer is):