Skip to comments.(Newspaper) Circ Declines, Some Steep, Continue (Dinosaur Media DeathWatch™)
Posted on 11/01/2007 5:30:13 AM PDT by abb
NEW YORK Newspaper executives have complained for years that the yardstick used to measure audience -- paid print circulation -- was unfair especially when compared to the likes of television and radio. Those media have always touted audience share to advertisers so why shouldn't newspapers?
Finally after years of debate, the industry is moving towards tracking its total audience which encompasses all its products (especially online viewership) -- not just how many people plunk down some coins for the newspaper. The change will be reflected next Monday, when the Audit Bureau of Circulations releases numbers for more than 700 daily newspapers throughout the country.
The push to herald total audience is coming not a moment too soon since paid circulation continues on a downward slide. According to industry sources speaking to E&P, daily circulation for reporting papers in the six-month FAS-FAX period ending September is down about 2.5% while Sunday is expected to fall 3.5%. Those types of declines -- in the 2% and 3% range -- have been occurring as far back as the March 2005 period.
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.
Ask 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%.
But there are signs that publishers are cycling through circulation declines. Some major metros that are said to show either gains or slight decreases (less than 1%, which is considered an increase these days) include: 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.
Other declines, though, are steep.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's circulation fell about 9% for both daily and Sunday. "Those loses are in-line with our expectations," Robert Eickhoff, senior vice president of operations, told E&P. "We are focusing on individually paid and marching down a very strategic path."
The paper is cutting back on other-paid copies, bonus days, and certain distribution areas that do not contribute to readership. "We have taken a very pragmatic view of how to grow circulation with advertisers in mind," Eickhoff said.
While paid circulation might be down, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's combined unduplicated print and online market reach is more than 50% -- also a number that will be making the FAS-FAX.
The reasons for the circulation drop-off were the same in Dallas, Miami and San Diego. According to sources, the 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%. Publisher James Moroney pointed to the cut back in other-paid and certain distribution areas. The paper is also moving away from discounted copies. That category was down 56% for daily and 64% on Sunday. As a result, the Morning News has improved its churn, which in the past four months is now down to 33% for new starts.
Daily circulation at The San Diego Union-Tribune declined about 8.5% while Sunday was down about 7.9%. The paper has almost completely eliminated third-party copies and reigned in some of their bonus days as well as discounted copies. Bill Nagel, the vice president of circulation, noted the paper's total audience reaches more than 60% of the market.
Combined circulation for The Miami Herald and Nuevo Herald declined daily and Sunday about 8.4% and 12.3%, respectively. Terry Whitney, vice president of circulation, said the papers were cutting back on third-party and event copies under a two-year plan.
When the FAS-FAX comes out next Monday, ABC will introduce the "audience FAX" where about 200 papers are providing the organization with not only circulation data, but print readership, online readership, unduplicated market reach, and monthly unique users. Daily and Sunday circulation will be a part of the report as well but the audience FAX is the first step in what will most likely be many more to emphasize total audience.
Even the Newspaper Association of America, which usually tallies FAS-FAX in order to show how much circulation has gone down (or up) as a top line number, will not crunch the overall industry data for the six-month period ending September 2007.
Jennifer Saba (email@example.com) is an associate editor.
A huge crocodile tear-drop just fell from my eye and splashed on my keyboard. Not to worry. It’s not really even wet.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s circulation fell about 9% for both daily and Sunday.
Between a large urban black population that probably does not read the paper with he same frequency as the suburban white population and a consistent editorial pattern (read: Cynthia Tucker, Mike Vukovich) of offending and insulting the white readership - whooda thunk it?
Really. It’s like car-salesmen selling cars without tires and then whining about the drop in sales.
They sell news without balance. Stories depleted of all factual content. Opinions saturated in treason and hate of all things American.
Then they whine that people don’t want to line their bird-cages with their tripe-filled pages anymore.
I cheer their descent into the economic gutter. They’ve been in the intellectual gutter for decades.
A schadenfreude moment for me.
“Uh, yes, about the numbers, we fully expect a 9% drop in circulation this coming year.”
Up to their neck in quicksand and grasping for an overhanging twig.
Translation: "We did everything we could to decrease our circulation by 9% and we met our expectations."
My response (I'm always curteous with people on the phone and never hang up on them): "Tell the folks at the Times that I wouldn't read their newspaper even if they gave it to me for free."
She thanked me (didn't sound very surprised) and said she'd pass that comment along.
How long before some Freeper with ties to the MSM, tells us that the MSM is doing just fine?!
So, parakeets and canaries are now going to be counted as "audience?"
Let them go the way of Eer-America. They both spew the same garbage.
It's all part of the show don't you know?
Who is going to tell Mr. Eichoff the challenge is to increase circulation and not the reverse. Come to think about it...never mind.