David Carr’s Bonnie Fuller Lovefest Struggles to Pass Accuracy Test

Fuller1.jpgSunday’s New York Times contains a long, glowing piece about former Us Weekly and Star editor Bonnie Fuller. David Carr’s story falls all over itself with praise for the tabloid queen:

The business results have been astonishing. During Ms. Fuller’s 16-month tenure at Us Weekly, newsstand sales more than doubled, to 600,000 copies. And Star‘s overall circulation grew to 1.25 million from 1 million after the conversion to a glossy magazine.

This would be great, except it’s not exactly true.

According to pink pages, Us Weekly‘s newsstand sales topped out around 505,000 during Fuller’s tenure. Since her departure, the median age of the magazine’s readers has dropped significantly while their median income has increased more than $10,000. Carr does write, “it should be pointed out that most of Us Weekly‘s growth occurred under the leadership of her successor, Janice Min, albeit on tracks already laid down by Ms. Fuller,” but fails to offer any other explanation.

More damning is the fact that Carr ignores some telling statistics about Fuller’s time at Star, where she made $2.1 million in 2007. Records from the Audit Bureau of Circulation only show a 14.5 percent growth in circulation during Fuller’s tenure at Star, less than the 25 percent growth the Timesman reports. Furthermore, single copy circulation dropped from 987,371 in 2003 to 719,385 in 2007, a decrease of 37.3 percent. (By comparison, the top 25 single copy circulation publications averaged a drop of only 7.7 percent during the same period.) Ad pages did increase 53 percent during Fuller’s time at Star, but much of this increase can be attributed to its transition from a tabloid to a glossy magazine.

During Fuller’s tenure at Glamour rate base increased from 2 million to 2.1 million. Since she left in August ’01, it has increased twice more to its current 2.25 million.

Carr’s piece is not factually inaccurate across the board, but too often he picks and chooses numbers to prove his point. We know the celeb tabloids that Fuller’s widely credited for creating aren’t pillars of accuracy, but we’d expect more from the Paper of Record.