"Someone on this blog pointed out that the silence from members of the Sun family who have left the building was deafening.
One reason for that could be so many people have put so much of themselves into building the Sun into a great place to work and learn that watching it in its current state is simply too difficult to do.
Benjamin Disraeli said “There are three kinds of lies: "Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics.” With respect to Disraeli, he¹s wrong. There are four kinds of Lies: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics and Newspaper Numbers.
Several times each year, the folks at NADBank and the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) release data on newspaper performance. The day after this information is released, newspapers go into a spin cycle that would make Maytag proud. The recent NADBank numbers are much like the recent provincial budget - if you look hard enough, you¹ll find something capable of pleasing everybody.
(Let me say at the outset that every newspaper in Canada takes part in the spinning of numbers to their own advantage and the disadvantage of their competitors described below. Failing to point this out would be unfair.)
There are a couple of other numbers that Garnett chose not to mention, however. It is interesting to note, for example, that the readership of the Sunday Sun, the paper he used to tout his numbers, was down 5.4 percent. Or the fact that the five-day cume (the total number of readers over the Monday-Friday period) was off 1.4 percent as well.
The most interesting fact, which was ignored by every media outlet that reported any number from the report, is that most of them were deemed “NS,” or not significant by the group releasing the report. That¹s right . . . irrelevant because of small sample size, margin of error or both. This is not to say the numbers are worthless - they're not. Rather, one should not take any one number in isolation and build a case around it.
A better indicator of a newspaper's success is circulation. At least these numbers are audited. ABC numbers are not, however, free from some degree of interpretation (read spinning).
Garnett observed that the Toronto Sun¹s paid circulation was up 16 percent last fall. That¹s accurate . . . well, sort of. Some part of “paid” circulation was up that amount.
The question is, which part? Was it the "paid" at over 50 percent of cover price? Was it the "paid" regardless of relation to cover price? In other words, did it include deeply discounted home subscriptions, “sponsored” bulk sold for pennies a copy, etc.? That¹s a question that has gone unanswered.
This is a number that isn't being touted. I wonder why? They are reported internally on a daily basis. My days as EIC always began with a review of the production runs, followed by a conversation with circulation.
.I wonder what effect the decrease in the number of journalists in the newsroom has had on these numbers? It would be interesting to overlay investment in content (i.e. journalists, news hole, etc.) with readership and circulation figures. My guess is the resulting graph could be used as a blueprint for the downhill ski run for the Vancouver Olympics.
It is very easy to view Pierre Karl Peladeau as some sort of Darth Vader character intent only on inflicting damage to the property. I believe that would be not only inaccurate, but also unfair. Pierre Karl is a very intelligent individual, who is receiving (and following) poorly conceived advice. (This is nothing new. Remember when the Sun raised its cover price by 50 percent in the middle of the NHL lockout?)
Pierre Karl is correct. Convergence is a cornerstone of the future of our business. I could care less if our readers get our information from ink on dead trees, online, on their cell phone or a device to be invented next week. All I care about is that they use us to get their information.
But convergence is more than a buzzword. It requires a seismic shift in editorial thinking. It requires an investment in both time and training. It requires an adjustment in the organization of the newsroom. It requires the trust and buy-in from those expected to converge, which means the message must be well communicated.
I applaud the introduction of some of the concepts that are being introduced at King Street East. It's the execution and the nature of the content itself that gives me pause.
Some of this content even appears in identical form in 24 hours. (Quebecor's) Luc Lavoie has been quoted as saying the amount of overlap between the two papers could reach as much as 20 percent.
Thank you for your e-mail, Jim.