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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Krugman, the future of newspapers, and the NY Times "Corrections Collection". 


When was the mermaid on the Barracuda?
Don't believe the New York Times!

~~~
Paul Krugman notes that he and his friend Brad DeLong really don't like the Wall Street Journal. But the "bad news" that the WSJ is so bad also "is good news", he says, because...
Thereís a pretty good chance that we will end up with only one great national newspaper. And I know which paper that should be Ö
Hmmm ... I can't tell! Let's look at the Times' own reporting...
The two-decade erosion in newspaper circulation is looking more like an avalanche, with figures released Monday showing weekday sales down more than 10 percent since last year...

USA Today ... [lost] the top spot in weekday circulation for the first time since the 1990s, to The Wall Street Journal.

The Journalís circulation, just over two million, rose 0.6 percent. It is one of a very few papers to sell online subscriptions, which are counted in the circulation total, helping The Journal, which does not publish on Sundays, defy the industry-wide decline. It has more than 400,000 digital-only subscribers, up by more than 100,000 from five years ago.

At The New York Times, which has repeatedly raised its prices in recent years, weekday circulation fell 7.3 percent, to about 928,000, the first time since the 1980s that it has been under one million...
And as we mentioned here earlier -- speculating that Krugman's resume is likely to end up on Murdoch's desk in the end -- Paul's good friends at Rasmussen report that only 24% of voters have a favorable impression of the NY Times ... something PK might take personally, being that...
Most voters (55%) donít know enough about Paul Krugman to venture even a soft opinion about him. Those with an opinion are fairly evenly divided ó- 22% favorable and 22% unfavorable ... with four percent (4%) voicing a Very Favorable opinion and six percent (6%) a Very Unfavorable view.

But if people are asked about "New York Times columnist Paul Krugman", the numbers shift significantly.

Once he is identified with that publication, his unfavorable ratings jump 15 points to 37%. The number with a Very Unfavorable view more than triples to 20%. However, Krugmanís favorable ratings show little improvement, inching up only three points to 25%...

John Fund was viewed favorably by 12% of voters and unfavorably by 22%. Just one percent (1%) had a Very Favorable opinion of him, and six percent (6%) offered a Very Unfavorable view.

However, when Fund was identified with The Wall Street Journal, his numbers jumped to 34% favorable and 20% unfavorable...
Well, if Krugman really believes the Times is going to come from behind to bury the Journal, he can buy some of its stock. It's cheap.

All of which gives me a convenient excuse to segue into this semi-annual NY Times Corrections Collection, courtesy of the Super Bowl wrap-up edition of the world's most eclectic football column [the following is edited for brevity] ...

In the past six months, the Times has, according to its own corrections page, said Arizona borders Wisconsin ... confused 12.7-millimeter rifle ammunition with 12.7 caliber (the latter would be a sizeable naval cannon) ... said a pot of ratatouille should contain 25 cloves of garlic (two tablespoons will do nicely) ... on at least five occasions, confused a million with a billion ... understated the national debt by $4.2 trillion ... used "idiomatic deficiency" as an engineering term (correct was "adiabatic efficiency")... said Paul Revere's Midnight Ride occurred in 1776 (it was in 1775 -- by 1776, everybody knew the British were coming) ... "misstated the status of the United States in 1783 -- it was a country, not a collection of colonies" ...

The Times also "misidentified the song Pink was singing while suspended on a sling-like trapeze" ... confused the past 130 years with the entire 4.5 billion-year history of Earth ... misused statistics in the course of an article complaining that public school standards aren't high enough ... said Citigroup handed its executives $11 million in taxpayer-funded bonuses, when the actual amount was $1.1 billion ... said a column lauding actress Terri White "overstated her professional achievements, based on information provided by Ms. White"... reported men landed on Mars in the 1970s ("there was in fact no Mars mission," the Times primly corrected).

The Times also gave compass coordinates that placed Manhattan in the South Pacific Ocean near the coastline of Chile ... said you need eight ladies dancing to enact the famous Christmas song when nine are needed ... said Iraq is majority Sunni, though the majority there is Shiite (hey, we invaded Iraq without the CIA knowing this kind of thing) ... got the wrong name for a dog that lives near President Obama's house ("An article about the sale of a house next door to President Obama's home in Chicago misstated the name of a dog that lives there. She is Rosie, not Roxy" -- did Rosie's agent complain?) ... elaborately apologized in an "editor's note," a higher-level confession than a standard correction, for printing "outdated" information about the health of a wealthy woman's Lhasa apso .... incorrectly described an intelligence report about whether the North Korean military is using Twitter ... called Tandil, Argentina, a "tiny village" (its population is 110,000) ... confused coal with methane (don't make that mistake in a mine shaft!) ... on at least three occasions, published a correction of a correction; "misstated the year of the Plymouth Barracuda on which a model dressed as a mermaid was posed;" "mischaracterized the date when New York City first hired a bicycle consultant" and "misidentified the location of a pile of slush in the Bronx"...

And that's not even counting the editorial pages. OK, if the Times does go under, all this I'll miss!