Audited audit

Audited audit: Michael Shields asks some good questions about Business Week’s decision to use both a belt and suspenders to hold up its circulation pants. In addition to being audited by ABC, they will also be audited by rival auditing service BPA. Although one of the questions sounds a bit like the old, “When did you stop beating your wife?”


Business Week said the move has nothing to do with any looming scandal, and there have not been any red flags over the magazine’s circulation. Indeed, the company appears to have a pretty clean auditing history. Is the magazine simply making a statement within a magazine industry that has been hammered by shady practices? One that says: “Look, we are cleaner than most?” According to Tom Masterson, Business Week’s vice president-worldwide circulation director, that’s exactly the case. “We are a very transparent company,” he said. “We are trying to take a leadership position in the industry. We really want to send a message.”

If the message is, “you need two audits to be believable,” then that’s a message that will come back to hurt the messenger as well as the intended audience.

For the sake of the magazine industry, I hope (and feel certain due to my respect for the company involved) that what we see here is what we get. If not, well, I’ll remind folks that when others were trying to bury news about circulation on Christmas Eve, there was at least one magazine geek blogger around to follow the story.

(More on this — and bumper music — to come.)

bumper music: Time and Time Again (Counting Crows) [I’m really proud of this one.]