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Saturday, October 30, 2004

NYT's margin of permissible untruthfulness

TO: N.Z. Bear
FROM: The New York Times
DATE: Friday, October 29, 2004 1:38 PM

You're right that we screwed up in citing your website for the proposition that the hard-left website known as dKos receives a half-million separate individual viewers daily.  And you're right, of course, that the real number of separate individuals is certainly way, way less than that.  But we're the New York Times, and this fits our agenda.  So to hell with the truth and anyone like you who cares about it — we're not gonna print a correction.  We can get away with telling this much of a baldfaced lie, and there's nothing you can do about it.  Because we're the New York Times, and you — you're just a bear, probably in pajamas.  Nyah-nyah-nyah!


No, that's not quite a direct quote.  But it's pretty close.  Follow the link to Mr. Bear's website to get the details.  I know that each and every one of my own million separate readers will agree with me that this is outrageous — and that Kos won't.  (Hat-tip InstaPundit.)

Posted by Beldar at 10:48 PM in Mainstream Media, Politics (2006 & earlier), Weblogs | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to NYT's margin of permissible untruthfulness and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» NYT Will Correct Kos Daily Visitors Error from The Truth Laid Bear

Tracked on Nov 2, 2004 7:14:57 AM

» NYT Will Correct Kos Daily Visitors Error from The Truth Laid Bear

Tracked on Nov 2, 2004 7:16:25 AM

» NYT Publishes Daily Kos Visitor Correction from The Truth Laid Bear

Tracked on Nov 9, 2004 8:06:10 AM


(1) mcg made the following comment | Oct 30, 2004 11:02:35 PM | Permalink

You know, I'm committing blasphemy here but I'm inclined to cut the NYT some slack on this one. I think they have a defensible argument here. We may dispute it, yes, but I don't think it's a clear cut issue. I thought their ridership analogy was an interesting one.

It would be a different story altogether if we could prove a pattern of purposefully inflating liberal blog numbers and deflating conservative ones. But that will take a bit more time to establish.

Having said all this, it would be worthwhile looking forward to have an extended discussion on how to represent web site statistics in a traditional news article. "Page vists" is, in my opinion, smacks of technical jargon, and a more layman-friendly alternative is needed.

(2) mcg made the following comment | Oct 30, 2004 11:04:28 PM | Permalink

Incidnentally, Beldar, your "1 million visitors" comment doesn't match up. Your statistics, were they reported by the NYT in a consistent fashion, would say that you have 10,000 visitors daily.

(3) Beldar made the following comment | Oct 30, 2004 11:13:47 PM | Permalink

Ummm, mcg, I was being snarky. Of course I don't have a million separate visitors. But it's just as valid to assume that every one of my page views over a several-months period was from a seperate viewer as to assume that every one of dKos' page views per day is from a separate individual. (Which is to say, not valid at all.)

(4) mcg made the following comment | Oct 30, 2004 11:45:51 PM | Permalink

Understood, Beldar---but to me, the issue is more about whether or not they inflate one web site relative to another. If they reported your site at 5,000 visitors a day, then you would have good reason to complain, because you know they consider a "visitor" to be a page visit.

I actually was on Truth Laid Bear's side at first but when I read NYTimes' response I just felt they were being reasonable, even though they disagree. Again, I think the subway ridership analogy is an interesting one worth considering. Yes I would prefer either a "unique vistor" count or that they call a page visit a "visit" or something of that sort, so there is no confusion, but I just don't see this rising to the level of a full correction.

(5) PC made the following comment | Oct 30, 2004 11:52:00 PM | Permalink

Hey, the NYT and other papers are currently getting slapped around for bloating their circulation numbers.

Mr. Borders, like most Democrats, want mo numbas, all da time.

Get mo votas, mo readers, all da time.

"After conferring with a couple of colleagues here who both know more about the subject than I do," Well why don't you just do a little research and ask some people who know a hell of a lot more than you.

Just think how we all know how wrong the Old Grey Lady or at least Senor Borders is on this. We know for a fact he's dead in the water and yet we can't get an admission of fault. Now think of all the situations where the facts are a lot more muddy/hazy. You know the old lady just won't admit to her screwups.

The Old media hates the digital newbies.

(6) mcg made the following comment | Oct 31, 2004 8:35:24 AM | Permalink

Where are my manners...

(7) N.Z. Bear made the following comment | Oct 31, 2004 9:34:55 AM | Permalink

For the record, I'm not really convinced that Borders is dragging his feet due to liberal bias; I think it's more just stubbornness / inflexibility.

Jeff Jarvis' post (http://www.buzzmachine.com/archives/2004_10_31.html#008316) is required reading on this issue. He says: "Bear is absolutely right and The Times is absolutely wrong. And I say that with the authority of an Internet executive who has dealt with these issues for 10 years now and as a founding member of the Audit Bureau of Circulation online committee that officially defined exactly these measurements with the Internet Advertising Bureau."

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