NYT Co. Disputes Prudential Study on 'Quality' Circ

By: E&P Staff On March 10, the Prudential Equity Group issued a biting 72-page report on the state of newspaper circulation, asserting that so-called "quality" circulation is declining.

One of the papers that fared poorly in the study was The New York Times Co.'s Boston Globe. Now, the Times Co. is firing back.

Prudential's report analyzed and ranked the 50 largest newspapers in ten circulation categories, such as the number of "omitted days" taken and the growth of "other paid" circulation. The day the report was released, E&P presented a straightforward summary on our Web site, one of more than a dozen stories or columns the magazine has published in the recent months on this subject, looking at this issue from a variety of angles, and providing a wide range of opinion on how "quality" should be measured.

In a letter to the editor of E&P today, Catherine Mathis, vice president of corporate communications at The New York Times, wrote:

"Your March 10 story, 'Prudential in Major Study, Notes Steep Declines in 'Quality' Circulation,' was based on the Prudential Equity Group's recent report on newspaper circulation, which contained both a flawed methodology and a number of material inaccuracies and errors. They were central to the report's conclusions and your story.

"Rather than provide a lengthy list of the errors and misinterpretations, which I would be happy to give you, we would merely suggest that any 'quality analysis' assigning stiffer penalties to newspapers that are slightly higher in minor areas (such as employee copies and omit days) than to papers awash in Other Paid Circulation is flawed to the core.

"If, as Prudential contends, quality circulation is based upon consumers seeking and paying for the paper, The New York Times and The Boston Globe should be rated at the top of the list, not where Prudential ranked them.

"Neither the analysts who developed the methodology and published the report, nor the reporter who wrote the article, contacted us prior to publication regarding this topic. If they had, both might have come to different conclusions."


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