May 8, 2007

Newspaper Circulation Drop Continues, With One Shining Exception

Filed under: Business Moves,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 6:02 am

The newspaper circulation numbers came out last week. Editor & Publisher’s article on the situation is here.

I’m reproducing their top-25 lists for daily and Sunday circulation as of March 31, 2007 below for future reference (their Sunday list actually has 26. The percentage changes are for the six months ended March 31 previous 12 months. Prior-period BizzyBlog posts relating to the September 30, 2006 and March 31, 2006 reports cited bias as at least as strong a contributor to circ declines as the influence of the Internet. Nothing much has really changed.

DAILY:

USA Today — 2,278,022, +0.23%
The Wall Street Journal — 2,062,312, +0.61%
New York Times — 1,120,420, -1.93%
Los Angeles Times — 815,723, -4.24% (-9.4% in 2 years)
New York Post — 724,748, +7.63%

New York Daily News — 718,174, +1.37%
Washington Post — 699,130, -3.47% (-7.0% in 2 years)
Chicago Tribune — 566,827, -2.12%
Houston Chronicle — 503,114, -2.00%
Arizona Republic — 433,731, -1.14%

Dallas Morning News — 411,919, -14.27%
Newsday — 398,231, -6.91% (-9.4% in 2 years)
San Francisco Chronicle — 386,564, -2.93% (-18.1% in 2 years)
Boston Globe — 382,503, -3.72% (-11.9% in 2 years)
Star-Ledger of Newark — 372,629, -6.08%

Atlanta Journal–Constitution — 357,399, -2.09% (-8.6% in 2 years)
Philadelphia Inquirer — 352,593, +0.61%
Star Tribune of Minneapolis — 345,252, -4.88% (-7.6% in 2 years)
Cleveland Plain Dealer — 344,704, +0.45%
Detroit Free Press — 329,989, -4.70%

St. Petersburg Times — 322,771, -0.08%
Portland Oregonian — 319,625, -1.05%
San Diego Union-Tribune — 296,331, -6.58%
Orange County Register — 284,613, -5.07%
Sacramento Bee — 279,032, -4.83%

SUNDAY:

New York Times — 1,627,062, -3.37%
Los Angeles Times — 1,173,096, -4.73%
Chicago Tribune — 940,620, -1.73%
Washington Post — 929,921, -3.20%
New York Daily News — 775,543, -2.47%

Denver Post/Rocky Mountain News — 704,168, -0.79%
Philadelphia Inquirer — 688,670, -2.45%
Houston Chronicle — 677,425, -2.18%
Detroit Free Press — 640,356; (change in frequency)
Star Tribune of Minneapolis — 574,406, -5.32%

Star-Ledger of Newark — 570,523, -4.33%
Dallas Morning News — 563,079, -13.33%
Boston Globe — 562,273, -6.92%
Arizona Republic — 541,757, -2.64%
Atlanta Journal–Constitution — 523,687, -6.72%

Newsday — 464,169, -5.04%
Cleveland Plain Dealer — 442,482, -1.86%
New York Post — 439,202, +6.15%
San Francisco Chronicle — 438,006, -2.99%
St. Petersburg Times — 430,893, +2.01%

Seattle Post-Intelligencer/Times — 423,635, -2.74%
St. Louis Post-Dispatch — 407,754, -3.67%
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — 400,317, -1.24%
San Diego Union-Tribune — 378,696, -7.27%
Baltimore Sun — 377,561, -6.06%
Portland Oregonian — 375,913, -2.29%

The shining exception to the general gloom in both lists is the New York Post. Its daily circulation leapfrogged both the New York Daily News and The Washington Post six months ago, and has stayed ahead since; that has to be hard to swallow in some Inside-the-Beltway circles. I say the New York Post’s success is largely due to their willingness to go elsewhere for outside help when it would come in handy. :–>

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UPDATE: This update changes info presented early this morning. The percentage circulation changes above compare March 31, 2007 to March 31, 2006, and are therefore 12-month changes, not six-month changes as was earlier thought. That, and reference to previous posts, provided the opportunity to supply the notable two-year-drop figures provided in italics in several cases above.

UPDATE 2: The flight of advertisers is accelerating — This WaPo article from Saturday about itself points to a 16% decline; if the dollar amount of that decline keeps going, WaPo as we know it is gone in six years. A different WaPo article from a couple of weeks ago noted several examples of smaller declines at other publishers.

UPDATE 3: O,M,G — At the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, home of the Lileks controversy, classified ad revenue in 1Q07 was down 23% from 1Q06.

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2 Comments

  1. Is not it a natural thing? With the exponential growth of internet and people spending more and more time on the web –and finding all the latest news in front of their desk -with RSS feeds alerting them instantly of the latest happening -I think newspapers will slowly die a natural death much like paper currencies will die. I even heard most Audio Tape ompanies are shutting down their wings with the advent of CDs, iPods.
    So this trend is keeping up with time.
    :D

    Comment by John — May 13, 2007 @ 5:18 pm

  2. #1, I would argue that bias, PC reporting, and lack of connection with the community are accelerating the process by a factor of 2 or 3, which, if you’re trying to make the transition to online viability, can be the difference between surviving and not surviving.

    Comment by TBlumer — May 13, 2007 @ 9:07 pm

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