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Meeker's Myth
In last week's Willamette Week, publisher Richard Meeker wrote his annual essay detailing his paper's accomplishments over the last 12 months--his "Publisher's Notebook." Boasting about his paper's impressive earnings and bevy of awards, Meeker explains in lengthy fashion how well WW is doing. Yet, in spite of the alleged shipshape report, a closer inspection reveals a few gaping holes in Meeker's assertions.

The most glaring inaccuracy was a claim that three out of four WW readers are between the ages 18-34. Oddly, Media Audit, the industry standard for gauging publications, says that only 36.2% of WW readership is between 18-34. In fact, the audit states that 68.3% are over 35. These numbers are vital because they place WW clearly outside of their most desirable demographic--the population most likely to go out and spend money on food, booze, and clothes.

Meeker also boasted that his paper had earned dramatic profits (while incorrectly saying the Mercury continues to lose money and wildly estimating that the Portland Tribune had sunk $10 million into its endeavor). What he failed to mention is that WW's profit margin has actually shrunk from roughly 10% to 6% in two years. A woeful decline for any business.

Apparently, in reviewing the past year, Meeker glossed over perhaps the most important lesson learned by business owners and managers from Enron to WorldCom: Be truthful to your shareholders--who, in this case, are his readers. PHIL BUSSE

Smith's Myth
Two days after breezily winning his second senate term, Gordon Smith moseyed over to Lewis and Clark College for a brief legislative pep talk with the student body. Besides droning on about the power of the American government, he also managed to state his anti-abortion position and support for "diplomatic and ultimately militaristic" action in Iraq.

During the election, Smith departed from his ultra-conservative background and took a moderate route; some worry that, now elected, he will shed his sheep's clothing.

"We want to make it clear that people here don't agree with him," said Elana Guiney, with Oregon Peace and Politics, who helped organize a protest outside the lecture hall. Others shouted, "Gordon Smith, you live a myth!" ANNA SIMON

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