Monday, April 28, 2008

Newspaper-Circulation Drop Sharpens

Most of the nation's biggest newspapers saw circulation tumble at an increased rate, a sign that the migration of readers online may be picking up speed.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations reported Monday that average weekday circulation at 534 daily newspapers fell 3.6% for the six months ended March 31, compared with the year-earlier period. The rate of decline is accelerating: ABC had reported an average weekday circulation drop of 2.1% in the year-earlier period and 2.6% in the six months to November.

Sunday circulation fell even more, losing 4.6% on average.

Newspaper circulation has been falling for more than 20 years amid increasing competition for advertising dollars and readers' attention. The latest results were grim but unsurprising, said John Morton, an independent newspaper analyst. "Big-city papers are suffering right now, and this is just reflective of that."

[newspaper circulation]

Average paid weekday circulation of the 20 largest U.S. newspapers for the six-month period ending in March. The percentage changes are from the comparable year-ago period.

1. USA Today, 2,284,219, up 0.3%
2. The Wall Street Journal, 2,069,463, up 0.4%
3. The New York Times, 1,077,256, down 3.9%
4. Los Angeles Times, 773,884, down 5.1%
5. New York Daily News, 703,137, down 2.1%
6. New York Post, 702,488, down 3.1%
7. The Washington Post, 673,180, down 3.6%
8. Chicago Tribune, 541,663, down 4.4%
9. Houston Chronicle, 494,131, down 1.8%
10. The Arizona Republic, 413,332, down 4.7%
11. Newsday, Long Island, 379,613, down 4.7%
12. San Francisco Chronicle, 370,345, down 4.2%
13. Dallas Morning News, 368,313, down 10.6%
14. The Boston Globe, 350,605, down 8.3%
15. The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., 345,130, down 7.4%
16. The Philadelphia Inquirer, 334,150, down 5.1%
17. The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, 330,280, down 4.2%
18. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 326,907, down 8.5%
19. Star Tribune of Minneapolis, 321,984, down 6.7%
20. St. Petersburg Times, Florida, 316,007, down 2.1%
Source: Associated Press

Newspaper publishers have also seen worsening drop-offs in print-ad revenue over the past few months, at least partly because of the economic slowdown.

Nearly all of the 10 biggest newspapers in the U.S. posted circulation declines. Circulation at the Los Angeles Times -- which has struggled with turnover among its newsroom management as real-estate magnate Sam Zell took effective control of its parent, Tribune Co., in December -- fell 5.1% to 773,884. The New York Times' average weekday circulation fell 3.9% to 1.08 million. It saw an even steeper drop in Sunday circulation, which was down 9.3% to 1.48 million.

"This was a decline that we planned and budgeted for," said New York Times spokeswoman Diane McNulty. The company has eliminated "bonus days," in which the Sunday paper was delivered to weekday subscribers, and has cut back on discounted and advertiser-paid distribution as it attempts to grow more-profitable circulation, she said. In that shift, she added, "We do expect to see some copy decline."

A Los Angeles Times spokeswoman said it too has cut bonus-day issues, which lowered circulation. She also noted a price increase for home-delivery subscribers and competing pressure from other media outlets.

Of the top 10, only two newspapers saw circulation growth. Gannett Co.'s USA Today, the largest paper in the U.S., posted a 0.3% increase in weekday circulation to 2.28 million. At The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by News Corp., the number of subscribers inched up 0.4% to 2.07 million, a figure that includes print subscriptions as well as about 352,000 online-only ones that qualify under the Audit Bureau's rules. The year-earlier figure included 340,618 online-only subscriptions. Other papers also offer electronic editions that qualify as part of their circulation, but the Journal has a far larger number of such subscriptions. [Click for MORE]

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1 comment:

john said...

Great information, online news readership is increasing rapidly from the past few years. There are new technology distributions channels came in and doing very well to the publishers. Some companies like helping the news publishers to distribute their print editions through these various technology mediums. I think this would be leads to generate more revenues and save the industry from shrinking.