Monday, August 15, 2011

Medical Emergency: CPR Needed For Astonisher's Fading Circulation.

The time has come, 
The Magpie said, 
To talk of many things:
Of shoes - and ships - 
Newspaper circulations and media fings.

(with sincere apologies to Lewis Carroll, who won't care anyway, since he's been looking at the lid for while now.)

The latest circulation figures for the Townsville Bulletin make interesting reading, and so does columnist Kath Skene's impish wrigglings about her unusual sense of humour.

An extra serving of drivel for you to ignore. Otherwise, read on at
In the past year, the Saturday flagship Astonisher's sales have slipped an alarming 7%, down from around 41,200 to 39,000 - clawing back a thousand or so after a disastrous and unexplained drop to around 38,000 last October. The Monday to Friday circs are also down, shedding a couple of thousand to just above 25,000. 

And as tic-inducing as these figures may be, even they may be unfairly flattering if one informed Magpie chum is to be believed. They noted that the Astonisher was up to its old tricks when the V8 SuperPests rolled into town. The contact alleges that the paper did a deal with V8 folks, to sell them - at whatever price no one knows - a whole stack of newspaper to give away free in the VIP boxes and near the entrances to the track. Most of these copies went untouched and were subsequently junked, but since a legitimate sale could be claimed, those papers massaged the circ figures a treat. 

And the Magpie chum says if they do it at the V8s, it is likely that a similar ploy could be used at any other big event.

Now pointing out these shenanigans is no scoop if it is true, because this particular lurk has been going on with newspapers around the world ever since the Dead Sea was merely feeling a bit crook.

But the latest readership figures are even more disconcerting for a paper that is the only one in town. That is, advertisers have no where else to turn for meaningful print exposure, and have to pay whatever is the going rate. But isn't that rate dependent on circulation and readership figures? If both those go down, shouldn't the advertising rates also drop?

For those not versed in the arcane nature of newspaper sleight of hand used to hoodwink advertisers, circulation figures are monitored by the tightly controlled circulation audit bureau, and, apart from mild fudging activities like those mentioned above, it is generally taken that they as is as close to correct as 'ferk it' is to swearing. 

Readership, on the other hand, is carried out by professional researchers, usually by phone polling a small percentage of people in the circulation area. This is entirely based on the halfway reasonable idea that more than one person reads each paper.  

The respected Roy Morgan Research people, whose figures for 2010 showed the Bulletin in a nosedive, had further bad news for jittery management in Ogden Street with their latest June to June numbers.

Monday to Friday readership has tanked to 69,000, down from 82,000 at the end of the previous 12 months. But the Saturday figures are the ones that  are sphicter-puckering for editor Peter Typo Gleeson and GM Michael Shrek Wilkins, dropping a whopping 10% in 12 months, from 106,000 readers to 95,000. 

Now, you might say ... 'well, its happening everywhere'. And so it is, but not at such an alarming rate So it is worth noting that it isn't all negative news for North Queensland. Turn your eyes to the north, and the Cairns Post lost just 3000 Monday to Friday readers over the year (80,000 down to 77,000), BUT - get this - the Cairns Post's Saturday readership has actually made a spectacular leap up to 114,000 from 109,000 - a gain of almost 5%.

Apparently the editorial management of our northern neighbour's newspaper has a better handle on how to engage their local audience than a couple of southern carpetbagging blow-ins at the Bulletin. 

You can view details of the the whole industry train wreck here.

Finally, a couple of notes for one of the better columnists (and award-winning-in-waiting reporter) on the Astonisher, Kath Skene. 

Her Saturday column was a clever get-out-from-under response to the alleged subbing clanger in her  previous column - using the term 'self-defecating' instead of 'self-deprecating'. But let's be generous and forego the blogger's usual 'pointless, gutless slagging' and agree that it was intentional. But if so, then where's the joke? 

Kath, old gal, you have a distinctive and enjoyable style, from which this foible so spectacularly departs. But anyway, 'self-defecating'? Doesn't even make sense in English - do you self-breathe, self-pee, self-sneeze, self-tickle? (Ignore the last one, your colleague CS might read something 'rank' into it).

Maybe The Magpie just doesn't have a sense of humour, damn it! 

And as regards your points about anonymity:
1. Can't find Typo Gleeson's name anywhere in the paper, and the editorials aren't signed. Since Typo doesn't write all of them, we don't know who's writing what - because they're all anonymous! As are people who tell the paper thy found rats in loaves of bread - very suss, that one. 

2. The Magpie accepts that you could not be talking about him in your toeing-the-News Ltd- party-line spray about blogging anonymity. The sylph-like 'Pie realises that digs about obesity could not apply to him, and besides, you make no mention of booze.

But look, Kath, me old chook, here's the thing, as you young people say ... Typo, Shrek and everyone at The Astonisher, as well as just about every single one of The Magpie's allegedly 'hundreds' of readers knows who The Magpie is. Feel free to name him, he won't blush. Remember Grog's Gamut? 'Outing' bloggers is officially sanctioned - nay, even mandated - by News Ltd. 

In case you've forgotten,  me old luvvy, here's a clue:
Knock, knock.
Whose there?
Malcolm who?
Geez, doesn't take long to forget, does it? 

Go for it.

Ha! As if.

Heh, heh, heh.


  1. So...the latest circulation figures are causing the Toads of Ogden Street to self-defecate?

    'Pie, old Mate, I reckon you would scarcely be forgotten over there. In fact, I bet you are frequently the topic of conversation.

    Although "fondly remembered" possibly would not be the appropriate phrase.

    And I would think much more honourable if young Kath would have simply 'fessed up to the bleedingly obvious typo - plenty of room for whoopsie, my bad humour.

  2. LOL I didnt even know who this Kath is.... And since I do not buy the paper... ever... I guess I never will.

  3. Pie, you hardly qualify as anonymous! I'll be generous and overlook your betcha-think-this-song-is-about-you vanity on this one. Bloggers weren't mentioned in my column, so if there's a line I wasn't toeing it. Must admit I'm feeling a bit forgettable though. I've met Mr Lane 3 or 4 times before - most recently over coffee with his lovely wife and my sister, whose wedding he's shooting next month. LOL at my lack of making an impression!

  4. Hey "Skeney" !!! We have met you once! And it was for your sisters wedding meeting with us lol, I only knew your first name :-) Totally didnt realise it was you... :-)