As a general rule, one should never trust a journalist when it comes to numbers. After all, if they were good with numbers they wouldn’t have chosen a career path with the financial prospects of a gig selling used speakers out of your trunk.
Last week the Boston Herald gleefully reported on a study recently released by Scarborough Research which claims an increase in readership for the tabloid with more puns than objectivity from March 2011 until February of this year.
The report reads that the Herald experienced a 6 percent increase in readership among both the print and online edition, while the Globe readership fell 6 percent.
The Herald claims that they’ve enjoyed a 15 percent increase in daily readership to about 494,000 throughout the week, and a 19 percent increase to 442,000 on Sunday.
The same Herald article also claims that the Globe’s daily readership has dwindled by 11 percent, with a 4 percent on Sunday, before also claiming that the Globe’s drop was by 6 percent. They don’t even bother with the bullshit readership number past the conflicting percentages.
The Herald references these increases in “daily readership” without qualifying if this is combination of print and web readers, exclusively print readers, or if its including the large number of feverish fantasies that fuel Howie Carr’s drivel.
Just a few paragraphs away, the story claims that the study found a 6 percent increase in “The Herald’s Print and Web audiences.”
Of course, we have to trust the Herald’s conflict of interest—er, reporting in this story, since the data is not publicly available, nor are the methods which were supposedly used to accumulate that information.
According to the Audit Bureau of Circulation, the Herald’s paid circulation is only 103,616 throughout the week, along with 81,677 on Sundays.
Either there’s some fuzzy math going on, or there’s a shitload of people reading the Herald over someone else’s shoulder on the T—which in retrospect is probably not the worst thing that someone can do behind you on your commute.
This comes just a few weeks after the Boston Globe cheerfully reported results from the Audit Bureau of Circulations that show an increase in circulation for the Globe for the last six months, with the added benefit of the Bureau combining online subscriptions to print ones to determine the full circulation.
According to the report, the Globe’s paid circulation throughout the week was 225,482 and 365,512 on Sundays for the last six months.
This doesn’t even take into account the dozens of page views Boston.com has no doubt pulled in with the expansion of the Your Town section—which has been the Globe’s attempt to enhance its hyper-local community coverage with poorly-paid contracted correspondents who were originally expected to produce one news story per day from each of their assigned Boston neighborhoods or towns, which quickly devolved into one real estate listing per day, to what is now pretty much one re-written press release or blog link per day.
By our estimates, that still puts their work narrowly above that of Patch.com. So hurray for lowered standards.