Industry experts & clueless reporters

Industry experts & clueless reporters: The LA Times (subscription required) reports the supermarket workers strike is hurting magazine newsstand sales.


Though most magazines are available by subscription, about half of all magazine sales in the U.S. are through supermarkets, industry experts say. Fashion magazines, gossipy tabloids and lifestyle periodicals, in particular, are prominently displayed at checkout lines, to snare readers with catchy headlines and provocative articles.

How’s that for an example of why reporters should not be allowed to play with statistics in an article? What industry expert would say that “half of all magazine sales in the U.S. are through supermarkets”? Half? All magazine sales? Ridiculous. According to The Advertising Trends and Magazine Handbook, available free on the MPA website, 85% of magazine sales come from subscriptions and 15% come from newsstand sales. Perhaps if you mistakenly call Wal-mart a supermarket, you can come up with a 50% of newsstand sales coming from supermarkets. But even then, Wal-mart has nothing to do with the strike being covered in this story, so it has no impact on the “half” of sales covered in this newsstory. (And this is just consumer magazines, which represent a mere fraction of all magazines published in America: think about business-to-business magazine, association magazines, the magazines you get from the university you attended.)