All My Little Words

From One Editor to Another…

Posted in Uncategorized by nickchristian on July 10, 2011

Was phone tapping really necessary? As several of the individuals involved have claimed, the dirty tricks employed by News of the World staff to get stories were a product of the culture of the paper and the pressure placed on them to beat the competition. Colin Myler, the paper’s last editor, has been at pains to state that these tactics departed with his predecessor and that, under him, the newspaper was a very different place and that the conduct of his reporters was far cleaner than it had been before. I wanted to know if there was any data to support either of these claims. The graphs below track the News of the World’s circulation, by month, under its last three editors, two of whom are up to their necks in the current scandal.

Apart from for Colin Myler I can’t seem to find the exact dates of the respective editors’ stewardship of the NOTW. I’ve therefore taken the start dates of Rebekah Wade and Andy Coulson as January of the year they began editing the paper. There’s not enough evidence to suggest that it was phone tapping and police bribery that made the difference, but we can reasonably deduce from the data a distinct difference in editorial approaches.

From the start of her tenure to its end, The NOTW’s circulation under Wade remained about the same, but did experience massive month on month deviation. Under Coulson we can see the same erratic peaks and troughs but the trend is distinctly downward, with circulation falling about 17% over his five years at the helm.

Myler’s graph is very different. The paper continues to lose readers (29% over four and a half years), there’s much more consistency from one month to the next. See for yourself:




I haven’t had a chance to read around the various circulation spikes and assign stories to them, so if anyone would like to help me with that, I’d be very grateful and would update the post accordingly.

Figures courtesy of The Guardian

2 Responses

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  1. Bobbers said, on July 10, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Interesting analysis. Definitely worth looking at the 3 individually and against each other.

    Couple of comments from me:

    Newspaper circulations have a natural cycle over the year, with summer months often lower than winter.

    The apparent Month on Month variation of the 3 editorships is I think more a function of the scale of your chart axis. Note Wade is showing 3.5m to 4.2m, Myler is 0 to 3.5m, so naturally looks less ‘peaky’.

    • nickchristian said, on July 10, 2011 at 2:33 pm

      Thanks Bob. Have updated the scale on the third graph.

      I don’t pertain to be drawing any concrete conclusions from this – just a bit of lazy Sunday thinking – but I think what’s most interesting to me is the month on month deviation. A multitude of explanations that I haven’t considered but on the whole, Wade and Coulson appear to have helmed a more erratic ship.

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