A different take on ABC numbers

Via David Carr of The New York Times
In a week when the Audit Bureau of Circulations announced that newspaper circulation nationwide was down (again) in the six months through March, it was tough to know which to believe: the statistics or my own lying eyes.

It makes a difference that the paper in question was The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, the 171-year-old paper that distinguished itself during Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that followed. Sitting across from each other sharing the paper and a cup of coffee at CC's Coffee House on Esplanade Avenue, John Bidwell was anticipating tearing into Fishing Friday for some local intelligence on what's biting where, while Kent Hardouin was enjoying an article about the New Orleans Saints reaching a contract agreement with Charles Grant, a star defensive end.

Just behind them, John Richie was reading up on the comeback of the Gentilly neighborhood (see our link to that project below) and complications with the federally financed Road Home project to repair damaged or destroyed houses.

"New Orleans is a place with a coffee shop on every corner, and you find people reading the paper because they almost have to," said Mr. Richie. "We are at a very critical moment in the city's history, and everybody is waiting to find out if things are going to turn out O.K.. Almost everyone reads the paper."

The newspaper's circulation, which effectively dropped to zero in the aftermath of the hurricane (when there briefly was no paper version), has come back to 185,000, far below its prestorm level of 270,000 but something of a miracle when you remember that by some estimates, half the city's population has yet to return.

Read all of "The Flood Begets a Paper Ark"

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