Not The South China Morning Post

Wally Wilde
September, 1998

A fascinating insight into the strange world of the Postie was offered by a nauseatingly elitist little item in last weekend's edition of the Sunday Post. Headlined "Peg's fall a nightmare scenario for cost of everyday living", it wasted about one-third of a page bemoaning the prospect of increased prices on imported goods in the event of the Hong Kong-US dollar link being abandoned.

We were informed that — oh, horrors! — the cost of mangoes, Mercedes cars, Merlot wine and holidays in the Maldives might put them beyond the Postie's reach. Also mentioned were such essentials as a pint of Guinness at Delaney's and beef and chicken dishes at "upmarket restaurants". Alarmingly, it was reported that "cheaper wines from Australia, South Africa and Chile, not France" might have to be substituted for the Posties' habitual tipple.

And just to make sure that they had not lost sight of that headline about "everyday living", in the final paragraph it was remarked, as an afterthought, that "Even the shopping bills would inflate, in line with the cost of importing fruit, vegetables, meat and other products."
Thank you, Posties Ruth Mathewson and Anne Stewart. Yes, it took the combined brain power of both of them to write this challenging piece of investigative reporting

9th September 1998           MISLEADING TERMINOLOGY

The Post Online's Tan Gim Ean (Punches passim) says "you have deliberately chosen to misinterpret my explanation on the difference between the industry terms of 'hits' and 'page visits or impressions' on your Web site."

Which industry is that, we wonder? The newspaper industry, which purports to be the watchdog for the public interest, or the advertising industry, which is notorious for its lies, half-truths and deception. The plain fact is that whatever the "industry term" may be, the man on the Mid-Levels minibus is going to think that "hits" equates to readers.

Our view is supported by the entry for the term in the Internet dictionary at, which reads, in part, as follows: "A Webmaster might brag–particularly to potential advertisers–about how many hits their site gets per day, intimating that the same number of people visit the site."
We asked an independent expert for his analysis of the Post's figures. He said that, any misunderstanding of the meaning of the term "hits" aside, there is a major flaw in the Post's page-view claims, owing to the structure of the SCMP Web sites. If SCMP has 200,000 viewers, which he says is an acceptable figure, each viewer accounts for 6.8 page-views. Most of this traffic is probably due to the newspaper, he says, and assumes for the purpose of his calculations that all traffic (the claimed 1,300,000 page-views) is generated by the newspaper site.

The problem lies in the fact that one has to go through three page-views–Homepage, Login and OK–just to access the newspaper, and those pages are just crap (the expert's words, not ours).
Hence more than 41% ofthe claimed page-views are "pass throughs"; no one actually reads them. Hence the Post may boost the number of its page-views to any desired figure simply by inserting more pages of "crap" before you get to the paper... Presto: "Hey, we have 10,000,000 page-views this month!"

Based on the expert's assumption above, the actual information people are looking at is only 760,000 page-views, which is about 25,333 page-views a day--not really that many for a newspaper. One of the sites he knows well gets about 50,000 page-views per day.  The bottom line is that the Post admits knowingly using misleading terminology in its advertising and this is plainly deceitful.