10/04/2011 04:17 pm ET | Updated Dec 04, 2011

What If Newspapers Were Ranked Like Colleges?

Here we are in the middle of ranking season. The signature U.S. News & World Report rankings came out last month, and the Times Higher Education global university rankings are due later this week.

Lots of people rank colleges these days, and most of the rankers are in the news business. Rankings sell magazines and generate Web hits. Rankings also draw endless complaints: They're viewed as an arbitrary, empty exercise in statistical ma­nipu­la­tion that panders to the worst sort of list-making impulses, the type of time-wasting prattle one might expect of the record-store clerks in the Nick Hornsby novel "High Fidelity."

All of which inspires a question: What if someone ranked newspapers?

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