Thursday, March 5, 2009
Addition By Subtraction… Squid enjoyed Herald publisher Gary Omernick’s first-ever byline on the opinion page on Sunday. The Herald is for sale, Omernick noted, you can buy a copy for a buck-fifty at 7-Eleven. Funny.
Then, the man who has been head beancounter for the Herald for the last two years went on to paint a rosy picture to assuage readers’ anxiety about the paper’s future. Omernick, using unattributed numbers, writes that circulation is down 5 percent from a year ago. Audit Bureau of Circulation numbers for the Herald, though, show a decline of 20 percent in the last five years. Also, Omernick claimed that the Herald website gets 250,000 unique visitors and “approximately 1 million” page views per month. Quantcast pegs www.montereyherald.com’s numbers at 117,000 visitors and 628,000 page views.
But the kicker came when he, instead of citing – or even making up – figures about the actual newspaper he publishes, he quotes an industry analyst opining that publicly traded papers nationally averaged 10.8 percent profit last year. The Herald, though, is privately held by Dean Singleton and MediaNews, which is saddled with $960 million in debt and had its credit rating downgraded to junk status in December. Meanwhile, the Herald is trimming its staff, page size and daily sections. If Omernick is now taking up writing, apparently the Herald is trimming its editors’ responsibilities too.
Squid misses Paul Harvey already. “And now you know… the rest of the story.”
BIG BROTHER… A favorite tipster clued Squid to, as he puts it, “the Orwellian call for ‘speaker transparency’ at City Hall meetings (www.monterey.org/ccncl/packets/2009/090303/5.pdf).” According to the city of Monterey memo, Councilwoman Libby Downey wants the City Council “to adopt a policy… that when an individual speaks on behalf of others, whether a neighborhood association, business association, a nonprofit association, etc. that they be requested, as part of their introductory testimony, to explain who voted and how many on the position they are taking. This would allow us to better measure the impact of an individual who states he or she is speaking on behalf of an organization,” Downey writes.
Said tipster disagrees: “Isn’t ‘speaker transparency’ really just an excuse for councilmembers’ outrageous nosiness or, probably worse, an attempt to undercut the power of any potential opposing opinion before the council?”