Thursday, November 01, 2007

Newspaper circulation declines

Steep circulation declines continue in the newspaper industry.

At Editor & Publisher (the Dutch-owned publication that follows the newspaper industry) - where editor Greg Mitchell perpetually proves that your brain stops growing from the acid in the 60's and where Vietnam flashbacks can occur daily and in response to every topic, at least for anti-war activists - are releasing the bad news a day ahead of the official figures.

E&P has learned that several major papers have suffered declines in daily circ of over 7%, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Miami Herald and The Dallas Morning News.

Asked for comment, publishers of these papers blamed the decreases partly on the cut back in other-paid circulation * -- which includes Newspaper in Education, hotel, and third-party copies.

And papers have been chopping distribution areas--it's too expensive to serve outlying communities, at least in print. **

Of course, some of the decline is occurring because fewer people are reading the print version. Single-copy sales, which is a barometer of paid circulation, have tumbled in recent years. This reporting period, the category is expected to decrease around 5%.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution's circulation fell about 9% for both daily and Sunday.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Ft. Lauderdale was down almost 9% daily and about 6% on Sunday.

The Dallas Morning News will report on Monday that daily circ fell 7.7% while Sunday slid 7.6%
The San Diego Union-Tribune declined about 8.5% while Sunday was down about 7.9%.

Combined circulation for The Miami Herald and Nuevo Herald declined daily and Sunday about 8.4% and 12.3%, respectively.

Gains or slight increases (1%) from the St. Petersburg Times, the San Jose Mercury News, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, and The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky.

The new figures will include online viewership for which readers pay, more or less, what most newspapers are worth - absolutely nothing. That this should shame the industry, and doesn't, is really part of the problem.

Except for the San Diego Union-Tribune that is a fine newspaper with responsible adults at the helm, the rest of the declines are predictable in an age of choice that includes something other than abortion.

** Other paid circulation = deeply discounted, practically give-away papers. You know, airport and hotel papers that litter your hotel doorway and seating at departure gates. Newspapers that were previously counted as circulation until they got caught at it.

** Translation: Our paper isn't worth the newspaper print it's printed on.

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