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Math! No, no ... Don't Look Away!

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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Care for a lesson in why merely skimming the headlines of your chosen newspaper (you do still read one, right?) isn't always the best way to get information? Take the case of the New York Times Company's July revenue report released this morning. Unsurprisingly, it ranges from partly sucky to mostly sucky, with an excellent chance of serious sucky to come. Of course, the best and worst thing about media-metrics is how easy it is to manipulate it all to one's advantage.

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The quick and dirty way to manipulate media reportage is to headline your story about your competitor's woeful status with a well-chosen piece of the available data. Which is why the Times' press release doesn't have any! "The New York Times Company Reports July Revenues," it mumbles, which is code for "It's so bad, we can't even use an adjective to describe it."

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