The Nation was excited to see that we’d been profiled in Monday’s New York Times, in a business section feature, "Bad News for Liberals May Be Good News for A Liberal Magazine." But we were surprised to read this:
No weekly magazine tracked by the Media Industry Newsletter has lost more pages of advertising this year than The Nation. As of Nov. 8, ad pages were down 30 percent compared with last year’s figures.
We had good reason to be shocked: It wasn’t true. The numbers provided to the Times by Media Industry Newsletter (MIN)—the industry’s arbiter of advertising statistics—were wrong, the result of a botched spreadsheet that added extra pages sold to our 2009 numbers and made it look like our ad sales this year were dramatically worse than they are.
The Nation, of course, has a non-traditional business model where the bulk of our income comes from you—subscribers and Nation Associates—not from ads. But any article reporting that we’re the worst in the industry in any category is pretty bad, and the article leaned quite heavily on our "ad troubles" as a sign of difficult times at The Nation. In reality, our highest selling ads—large display—are up 6 percent, and web ad sales are up almost 15 percent. In total we’re down only 5.7 percent from 2009, well in line with the rest of the industry.
When I saw the Times article on Sunday night, which includes some great quotes about the "fiery" Nation and our role as "a leading institution on the left," I’d tweeted that perhaps it was best read from the bottom up. I still hope you’ll give it a read (from either end now) as a profile of a magazine looking towards the future and charting its bold course in this tumultuous political moment.
Expect retractions from MIN Online and the New York Times shortly.