Down for the Count

Last year, three of the country’s largest newspapers (Newsday, the Dallas Morning News, and the Chicago Sun-Times) admitted to falsifying their circulation numbers, resulting in circulation staff shakeups and compensation to advertisers.

Now comes the news, courtesy of Advertising Age, that the magazine world is experiencing "a Msl_3 circulation scandal that is tearing through the industry." The latest titles to be caught with their pants down and their numbers artificially up are Martha Stewart Living, Family Circle, and House Beautiful. As many as one third of the leading consumer magazines may be affected, according to Ad Age.

All I can do is to let out an exasperated sigh. The news media is already taking hits from all sides for ethical lapses everywhere, and now this. Perhaps, as one publisher said, this scandal could be an "apocalypse." If so, the print media should get right with itself and start thinking about its own second coming as trustworthy in word, act and deed.

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