New Statesman Cooks the Books With Free Copies

New Statesman editor Jason Cowley has been boasting to anyone who’ll listen about how his magazine’s print circulation is at a four decade high. Last week Cowley crowed to the BBC’s Amol Rajan:

“In an era of fake news, people are realising that good journalism is worth spending money on. While much of the liberal media has been struggling to survive in a declining market dominated by powerful media groups, the New Statesman has not merely held its position but expanded dramatically”

Delve into the Statesman’s ABC certificate, however, and it becomes clear they are cooking the books…

Only 68.6% of the Statesman’s circulation is “actively purchased” – this is remarkably low and well below its competitors. Put another way, the Statesman gives away 31.4% of its copies for free. They might have their highest circulation for 40 years, but they are giving one in three copies away for no charge…

Compared to their rivals, the Statesman is significantly fiddling its figures. The Spectator gives away just 11.9% of its circulation for free – fewer than 1 in 8 copies. 15% of the Economist’s circulation is given away for free. The Week gives a quarter of its copies away for free. 0.1% of Private Eye’s circulation are freebies. The Statesman’s addiction to giveaways stands out – and helps them massively manipulate their headline circulation figure.

Cowley’s boast last week claimed “In an era of fake news, people are realising that good journalism is worth spending money on”. This itself is fake – a third of the Statesman’s print readers don’t spend any money – not counting that it is also free online, whereas rivals like The Economist and The Spectator have online paywalls. “In an era of fake news”, surely the Statesman should be more honest…


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