Like most major papers, the Washington Post is having a hell of a time holding on to its paid Sunday circulation. Each year, Sunday subscribers desert the paper in droves of between 8,000 and 10,000, leaving the Post with a total Sunday circulation of 1,039,644 in 2003. The steady erosion, mind you, is taking place in a region whose runaway growth is challenging every zoning, height, and land-use stricture on the books.
So the Post has found a new market for its Sunday product: existing subscribers!
That’s right—eligible subscribers who currently get home delivery for just one Sunday Post can now get another copy for the bargain-basement price of $1—50 cents below newsstand price. But don’t listen to Dept. of Media—get it straight from the Post’s ad copy:
Many of us spend too much time wrestling with the kids for the Sports section or Comics, or straining over our significant other’s shoulder to keep up with the news. If you find yourself hiking from floor to floor in search of TV Week, Parade, or the Washington Post Magazine then we have a solution for you.
Enjoy DOUBLE on Sundays with the Washington Post.
According to Jeri Flood, the Post’s consumer marketing director, the double-paper offer is not available “market-wide” and springs from an analysis of the “best practices” of other newspapers. The deal kicked off on April 12 and will end on May 30.
A Dept. of Media marketing team has concluded that no commercially traded items are more useless than a second Sunday newspaper. Candidates include a second left shoe, a second home solar-heating system, a second liver transplant, and a second timing belt for your Honda Accord. In the end, all these items have more merit than a pound of redundant newsprint.
Yet one deal might help: Waste Management Inc. offers a two-for-one recycling bin special!
“My heart goes out to the forests,” says Jim Dougherty, leader of the D.C. Sierra Club chapter.
Who’s Jack Kelley?
Shortly after the New York Times issued its mea culpa over the Jayson Blair affair last May, its imaginative reporter found his way into the headlines of dailies large and small across the country and even landed a cover spot on Newsweek.
But media junkies don’t seem to be getting the same fix with the downfall of USA Today’s star foreign correspondent, Jack Kelley, who hasn’t come close to achieving Blair’s household-name status. A Factiva search shows that Blair earned 1,428 mentions in U.S. newspapers in the first two weeks following the Times’ report of his fraud. Kelley turned up 103 hits in the first two weeks after USA Today announced its investigation and Kelley’s resignation. That’s an attention deficit on the order of 14 to 1.
There’s no shortage of arguments as to why Kelley doesn’t command the attention of his fibbing predecessor: The Times is the paper of record, USA Today is the paper of chain hotels; the Blair story had the undercurrent of affirmative action; there was no uprising in Fallujah as the Blair story unfolded; people get tired of doing the same story over and over.
But there’s an even more plausible scenario: Media heavies don’t read USA Today.
Here’s how some media critics responded to the following question: What was your favorite Jack Kelley story?
Harry Jaffe, Washingtonian
“I can’t pass myself off as a student of Jack Kelley or of USA Today,” says Jaffe.
Greg Mitchell, Editor and Publisher
[Laughing]. “You mean a story in the paper? I wish I could comment, but I never used to follow USA Today that carefully in their news section,” says Mitchell.
Mark Jurkowitz, Boston Globe
“The one that stuck in my head was absolutely the suicide bombing in Israel,” says Jurkowitz, who specifically recalls reading it when it first appeared and being blown away by Kelley’s apparent proximity to the event. “If you asked me prior to what had happened to him to name 10 stories by him, I probably couldn’t have…. I can’t say I ever read [USA Today] closely, but it arrives on my desk every morning—and not just when I’m staying at hotels.”
Jack Shafer, Slate
“I didn’t really have a favorite Jack Kelley story,” admits Shafer. “I wouldn’t say I paid a lot of attention to his work, [but] I had heard he was a star.”
David Folkenflik, Baltimore Sun
“My honest answer is that I didn’t have one,” says Folkenflik. “To be honest, I can’t say I was reading everything he wrote. The people reading him were probably non-media-columnists. Real readers, I guess.”
Washington Times Corrections
Corrections Policy: The Washington Times lacks the resources to run its own corrections. Therefore, it relies on the Washington City Paper to manage this critical function.
If you see an error in the Washington Times, please contact Erik Wemple at (202) 332-2100 x 1450, or e-mail WashTimesCorrex@ washcp.com.
•A photo caption in the April 19 edition incorrectly identified Lincoln Park as being in Northwest D.C. It straddles Northeast and Southeast.
•An April 17 correction of an April 2 story by Denise Barnes did not correct the statement that the D.C. school board announced the dismissal of Ballou Senior High School Principal Art Bridges. In fact, the board has no such authority, and the action was announced by Interim Superintendent Elfreda W. Massie.
•A March 31 Op-Ed by Helle Dale incorrectly reported on an imminent review by the National Capital Planning Commission of a memorial to the victims of communism. The review, in fact, falls to the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission.
The Washington Post’s Sunday Source includes a weekly feature called “The Look,” which panders to the fashion tastes of the region’s hipoisie. One week, the space will profile “Skinny Scarves,” the next “Super-Long Coats,” and so on. On April 18, “The Look” showcased “Embroidered Button-Downs,” as modeled by actor Ben Chaplin and a few average Joes.
Nice pictures, cool embroidery, and a complete fraud! Not one of the shirts in the package met the criteria that would make it a “button-down.” All of them had loose collars. “A shirt is a button-down only when they have buttons on the collar, so the collar won’t fly or be out,” says Tania Valencia, an assistant manager at Thomas Pink, a high-end shirt retailer on Connecticut Avenue.
Sunday Source Editor Sandy Fernandez did not respond to two messages. —Erik Wemple and Dave Jamieson