Bad News: Newspaper Circulations Going Up!

Circulation rates going up! That's great! Print's dying and someone's succeeding! THANK GOD. Except, not. While circulations go up, fewer people are getting newspapers circulated to them. How?

For example, the charmers at my hometown paper, the Las Vegas Review Journal, saw an increase in circulation this year by 6.6%. Which is awesome! Except: strange. Because Vegas' economy is in the toilet, having been crippled by foreclosures and joblessness. Why wouldn't these people just go online and get that shit for free? Funny you'd ask, because weekday sales dropped by 12,000 copies.

So. About that increase in circulation. Is the mob fixing numbers in Vegas again, or what? So old-school. Here's how this works: back in April, the Audit Bureau of Circulations changed their rules to let numbers look better to people who look at circulation rates, like ad buyers (and media reporters). The standard-change was bad. Like, disingenuous. Which is how the Review-Journal went up in circulation this year.

The change happened because the price the newspaper was charging for the online replica — it costs print customers an extra 50 cents per week — hadn't been high enough to qualify as paid circulation until the ABC's April change. That let newspapers define their paying readers as anyone who spends at least a penny for a copy. Previously, a newspaper copy had to sell for at least 25 percent of the basic price to qualify as paid circulation.

Right, so, by that logic, $1 could potentially equal 100 copies, and $100 equals 10,000 copies. Here's where I'd write that that's five times the amount of copies of the LVRJ distributed in Vegas, but I can't, because we have no idea how many copies are actually distributed! Fun. How do advertisers feel about this runaround? Raging mad, right? Um, kind of. One advertiser thinks the numbers are "less credible."

You really have to do your homework now and ask newspapers about how much double counting is going on,'' said Allison Howald, U.S. director of print investment at PHD Media.

The rage doesn't come across quite like I was expecting it to.

Hopefully, "less credible" is a kind euphemism for "complete bullshit," or some advertisers are going to wake up one day and start asking questions about why the 200,000 eyes they were promised on their quarter-page actually only amounts to a third-grade arts class making paper machete hats. You'd think these sketchy practices are limited to sleazy gambling towns like Vegas, though, right? WRONG again. Wall Street Journal, you guys will be transparent, right?

Nope. WSJ spokesman Robert Christie wouldn't respond to the AP's questions for quote on the new rules, including whether or not their numbers included digital subscriptions.

Including the print side, the Journal's total circulation edged up by just 0.6 percent to 2.02 million. ''We followed the ABC's rules and methodology,'' Christie said

Right, so, newspapers: more fucked than previously statistically "proven."

I'm forgetting where I read about the guy who used to steal ATM receipts of trashcans to impress dates with his huge bank account. This reminds me of that.