This Isn't Good News

We got the report from behind the Sun-Sentinel lines on Friday. On Sunday, Executive Editor Earl Maucker gave us the official line, setting the record straight on his newspaper's falling circulation levels.

But, as unofficial Pulp contributor John DeGroot mentions in his screed below, there aren't any facts in it. None (except one self-serving Internet stat). No worries, DeGroot supplies some in his critique of the column below:

Another Faux Pearl from Earl

Come the day the Sun-Sentinel’s Editor tells it like it is in his bi-weekly Sunday op-ed column and you’ll see three wise men on camels pulling into the newspaper’s parking lot.

In his most recent epistle to Broward’s booboise, Earl bemoans “that circulation of newspapers across the U.S. is in decline.

“But wait,” Earl continues. “Let’s take a deeper look at the facts before we start writing off the future of newspapers.”

Trouble is, the following twenty-some inches of type-tap dancing by Earl is little more than

a solo shitload of opinion devoid of any relevant facts.

So.

Time now for the cruel circulation facts concerning Florida’s seven leading daily newspapers for the latest six months as reported by the Audit Bureau of Circulation.

Or, more to the point, the facts Earl failed to give his readers.

In order of their daily circulation losses we find:

The South Florida Sun Sentinel -------------down 22,927 for a loss of 10%
The Miami Herald ---------------------------------down 15,470 for a loss of 5.6%
The Tampa Tribune ------------------------------down 9,729 for a loss of 4.3%
The Palm Beach Post --------------------------down 5,958 for a loss of 3.4%
The Florida Times Union -----------------------down 3,540 for a loss of 2.2%
The Orlando Sentinel ----------------------------down 3,880 for a loss of 1.7%
The St. Petersburg Times ---------------------down 1,155 for a loss of 0.4%

So much for facts.

Time now for context.

Nationwide, daily newspaper circulation declined 2.1% during the latest six months. While daily circulation at the Sun-Sentinel declined some 10% -- which is nearly five times greater than the national average.

But not to worry, Earl soothes his readers and shrinking staff.

“Newspapers and the journalists that work for them have a healthy future ahead” – as opposed to a healthy future behind.

“The good news,” Earl assures us, “is that the appetite for news has never been more robust.”

Trouble is, Earl’s idea of “news” is once again shockingly short on emmis backed up with solid facts.

Which is how and why today’s Sun-Sentinel newsroom has become a hospice ward for responsible journalism.

No matter.

Because I can’t wait to read what Earl will say about the Sun-Sentinel’s hemorrhaging advertising revenue – which has declined even faster than it’s shrinking circulation.

Look, we all know readers are heading to the Internet, but a strong newspaper will hold more readers' loyalty than what the Sentinel has. And the biggest problem is that the newspaper is going in the wrong direction. While it should be concentrating on good old-fashioned journalism -- which does sell, whatever form it may come in -- it's going for positive, light crap that few people, least of all more sophisticated Internet readers, actually wants.

In other words, don't expect a big turnaround for the Sentinel, on either the journalistic or circulation front.

And now here's an addendum DeGroot sent the Pulp regarding the above. The ten-year Sunday circ numbers really are startling:

IN MY LAST MISSIVE, I FAILED TO CITE THE CRUEL IRONY IN EARL'S QUOTING HOWARD GREENBERG IN HIS SUNDAY COLUMN ON THE ALLEGED SILVER LINING IN THE SUN-SENTINEL'S SINKING CIRCULATION -- THIS AFTER HOWARD HAD FLOGGED HIS NEWSROOM FIELD HANDS BECAUSE NOBODY WANTED THEIR COTTON. JESUS! I MEAN, IF THEY AWARDED PULITZER'S FOR CHUTZPAH..... ALSO, I SHOULD HAVE MENTIONED HOW I HAVE A BLACK COFFEE MUG WHICH EARL GAVE TO EACH STAFF MEMBER 10 YEARS AGO TO CELEBRATE THE FACT THAT THE NEWSPAPER'S SUNDAY CIRCULATION HAD HIT 420,000 IN FEBRUARY OF 1997. AND NOW ... ACCORDING TO THE LATEST ABC NUMBERS, THE SENTINEL'S SUNDAY CIRCULATION AVERAGED 319,103 FOR THE LAST SIX MONTHS. WHICH SHOWS A 23.8% DROP IN SUNDAY READERSHIP DURING THE PAST DECADE WHILE THE POPULATION IN BROWARD AND PALM BEACH HAS INCREASED NEARLY 30% TALK ABOUT NUMBERS FROM HELL! OH WELL. AS THE CAPTIAN OF THE TITANIC WAS HEARD TO SAY AS THE MIGHTY SHIP SET SAIL FOR NEW YORK, "WE'RE OFF TO MAKE HISTORY!"
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