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Work in the media? Struggle with statistics? Stan's irreverent (and often irrelevant) review of the latest media reports, news and gossip may not help at all... Stan the Statistician

Stan # 79: Newspaper readers July 2004

According to the University of Cincinnati, 98% of us have had a song annoyingly stuck in our heads. "The tunes tend to be simple with a repeating melody, which triggers the brain to repeat it on its own," says survey leader James Kellaris. Musicians, women and compulsive people are especially vulnerable. While one poor soul claimed he'd had the same video-game tune in his head since 1986, 63% said they are able to break the chain by turning on the radio, reading aloud or even singing the offending song to others.

So, it must be tough being a female compulsive musician. It's also not a very charitable thing to dump your song on others especially if they are female compulsive musicians. The three worst offenders are "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", "Don't Worry, Be Happy" and "YMCA". Now, did you sing any of these? You will!

75% of sudden deaths during sexual activity involve extra-marital sex. On the face of it, this may put you off bonking someone who is not your husband or wife, but I suspect that 75% of all sexual activity is extra-marital so that would make the chances of expiring during bonking the same within or without the marital bed.

According to the Journal of Applied Psychology (I wonder if there is a Journal of Unapplied Psychology), tall people earn the most. Every inch in height adds around £493 a year in pay. So, if you want to earn more, put lifts in your shoes or wear high heels.

POMONA, Calif. (AP) - Can something that's free be stolen? Some 2,500 copies of the free Poly Post student newspaper were taken from California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, distribution bins and authorities are trying to determine if a crime was committed.

"The theory is that you can't steal something that's free," said Sean Scully, the paper's faculty adviser. "Nevertheless, we plan to pursue this with the campus police, the student elections commission and judicial affairs at the college."

The purloined Poly Post papers featured stories on upcoming student government elections.

"A front page story about one of the candidates in the election probably caused it to be stolen," editor-in-chief Luis Gomez said.

The newspapers, which staffers value at about 44 cents each, took hours of effort to produce and $580 worth of advertising was sold for the issue.

"The biggest hurdle always seems to be convincing the police that these acts are crimes," said attorney Mike Hiestand of the Student Press Law Center, an organization that advises student journalists nationwide.

Hiestand said the group recommends "that papers put a disclaimer on the cover saying the first copy is free, but additional copies cost 50 cents."

Despite the innovation, worldwide circulation fell 0.12% in 2003. The number of free dailies, such as Associated Newspapers' Metro, grew dramatically, up 16%. Metro has bucked the UK newspaper trend and is now given away in around a dozen cities and regions, with a daily distribution topping one million.

The global newspaper figures were published by the World Association of Newspapers at the 57th World Newspaper Congress in Istanbul. Newspapers' share of the world advertising market fell from 31.2% to 30.8% in 2003, but the industry remains in second place behind television, which has a 38.8% share of the market.

Newspaper circulation increased in 35 of the 208 countries studied. In the United States, circulation was stable in 2003 but fell 1.4% over the five-year period.

Some of the biggest gains were seen in China, up 35% since 1999, and India, up 23%, while the number of newspapers in Russia has almost doubled in two years, from 222 to 428. Among the biggest fallers were Iceland, where circulation fell nearly a quarter over five years, and Turkey, down nearly a half. The biggest newspaper buyers remain the Norwegians and the Japanese, with 684 and 647 sales per thousand people each day.

Advertising from newspaper web sites topped $10bn in 2003, more than double its value in 1999. Revenues at online newspapers are forecast to grow to more than $13bn in 2006. The research also revealed that 265 newspapers were published in Afghanistan, despite a literacy rate of only 20%. Confidence in the press was lowest in Paraguay, where only 8% of the population believe it is trustworthy, while in Senegal a newspaper costs the same as a kilogram of rice and 60% of Senegalese borrow a newspaper rather than buy one.

Check in again at my desk soon!

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