The real test of character is how someone handles adversity. After all, we all go through hard times, suffer set backs or make mistakes--but do we disclose our problems or try to cover them up?
The newspaper industry is famous for demanding accountability and transparency. Yet when their industry suffers hard times, they lie, spin and obfuscate in an effort to hide the real truth from readers.
Advertisers don't trust newspapers to report their circulation numbers honestly, so they subscribe to an organization called the "Audit Bureau of Circulations." Every six months, the ABC releases two circulation numbers, one for Sunday only and one for the rest of the week. Those are the audited numbers and you can see them here.
Here's what the Audit Bureau reported for the Republic.
Daily circ at The Arizona Republic in Phoenix fell 12.3% to 316,874. Sunday was almost flat (-0.8%) to 458,992.
However, here's how the Republic reported it. First they confirm that the independent audit bureau is the source.
Figures released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations show that average daily circulation for U.S. newspapers dropped 10.6 percent in the April-September period from the same six-month span in 2008.
Then they provide the statistics.
Sunday home delivery circulation was up 0.74 percent. Overall, Sunday circulation dropped 0.87 percent to 458,992. The Republic dropped 12.23 percent on weekdays, to 316,874.
The second part--showing a drop in both Sunday and weekday circulation--is clearly from the ABC report but what about the first statistic showing an up tick in the strange category "Sunday home delivery Circulation"? That's not in the report (at least not in the public part). That looks like an internal, unaudited spin statistic. That's the Republic's own number and you can believe it at your own risk. Yet the way the sentence is written, the number is presented as an audited number.
That's classic obfuscation. In fact, in a prospectus, it would be criminal. If that number is indeed unaudited and they are lumping it in with the audited numbers and passing it off to advertisers, they are at risk for fraud.
The advertisers have some protection at law. The readers however are at the mercy of the Republic's honesty and transparency. Unfortunately, although the paper demands these qualities in others, it doesn't demonstrate them itself..