NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Nevada County Citizens for Responsible Journalism

The single purpose of this web site is the removal of Jeff Ackerman as the Union Publisher. For all their claims of responsible journalism, the site leaves some thing to be desired as responsible journalists.

First: They fail to identify themselves. Who are these anonymous attackers? Why are they hiding?

Second: They claim the all letters to the editor are not published, yet fail to provide any convincing proof.

Third: They make circulation claims without considering the real world facts, all newspaper circulation is declining as people use cable TV, talk radio, and the Internet for realtime news. Newspapers publish old news.

The anonymous attackers claim that Jeff is bad for circulation here:
Circulation rose modestly but steadily through the late 1990s while Walker and Starren were publishers. In 2000-2001, at the end of Starren's tenure, circulation reached a plateau of just over 16,400 "total paid and/or requested" copies daily, averaged over the year. With Mr. Ackerman's arrival in 2002, circulation dropped, reaching a nadir of less than 15,800 in 2003. Somehow, Ackerman boosted the numbers just released for 2004 to a little more than 16,000, but this number is still below the high point reached in 2000 and 2001.

These numbers should also be put in the context of the county's population growth. Throughout this entire period, the population was growing at about 1000 to 1500 people per year. Looked at this way, circulation growth matched or exceeded population growth until 1999, and then failed to keep up with population growth after that. The decline in circulation under Mr. Ackerman's leadership becomes a significant drop-off when expressed as a percentage of the county's population, as you can see in the graph below.
The authors who fail to identify themselves, fail to mention that newspaper circulation is falling across the county, about one half percent a year since 1964. Since 2000 it has accelerated to 2-4 percent a year. This acceleration is attributed to Internet use, according to Pew Foundation research. For newspapers smaller than 25,000, about 65 percent showed circulation losses last year. Even in Arizona where the population continues to grow, newspapers readership continues to drop, In the last six months the Arizona Republic readership dropped 4.4 percent. The Union’s readership only dropped 3.6 percent in 4 years.

Under Jeff leadership The Union web site has been expanded, and as a result the online readership continues to rise, as more people read the paper online. This also needs to be factored in to the circulation discussion. The real measure of Jeff's value, is the paper profitable?

The argument that Ackerman caused a drop in Union circulation is faults! Falling circulation is happening to most newspaper across the county, accelerating after 2000, with rapid growth in Internet usage. It seems to me that responsible journalist could do a better job of circulation analysis if they were not so intent on attacking Jeff Ackerman.

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