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Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Amid continuing newspaper circulation declines, conclusions should be carefully drawn

28

April

Newspapercircdeclines1 Returning from vacation today, I saw news reports from Monday about circulation figures indicating continuing losses in paid circulation for newspapers across the country.

U.S. newspapers saw daily circulation fall 7.1 percent and Sunday circulation dip 5.4 percent during the period from October to March, compared with the same six-month time period a year earlier.

Newspaper executives -- including Times Publishing Co. chairman, CEO and editor Paul Tash, have explained that circulation losses for some papers have come from deliberate business changes (for the St. Petersburg Times, we stopped including Monday newspapers with a Sunday subscription) and that readership for media companies that own newspapers has increased.

This was a point I also made a few weeks ago during a public forum with Frontline executive producer David Fanning; more folks than ever are experiencing our journalism, thanks to online outlets and new platforms such as TBT, PolitiFact and Bay magazine.

Tbc But the primary way we make money is in decline, as classified advertising suffers, display advertising slumps and the numbers of people who pay for subscriptions to the newspaper drop.

So concluding that subscription declines are the result of political bias or journalistic ineptitude is, I think, missing the point. We're in the midst of a historic shift of consumer habits, from platforms where media companies made lots of money on the audience (traditional newspaper subscriptions) to places where they earn much less money on them (online platforms, free tabloids).

Which leads to several questions: Should media companies try to combat audience attrition, or find ways to make more money on the platforms that are growing? And what if both strategies fall short?

Click below to see the circulation figures for the Top 25 newspapers Sunday and weekly, along with Florida's biggest newspapers. *

Top 25 U.S. Newspapers by Daily Circulation

USA TODAY                                         2,113,725    -7.46%
WALL STREET JOURNAL                   2,082,189    +0.61%
NEW YORK TIMES                              1,039,031    -3.55%
LOS ANGELES TIMES                           723,181    -6.55%
WASHINGTON POST                             665,383    -1.16%
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS                      602,857    -14.26%
NEW YORK POST                                  558,140    -20.55%
CHICAGO TRIBUNE                               501,203    -7.47%
HOUSTON CHRONICLE                        425,138   -13.96%
ARIZONA REPUBLIC                              389,701   -5.72%
DENVER POST                                       371,728     N/A*
NEWSDAY                                               368,194    -3.01%
DALLAS MORNING NEWS                     331,907    -9.88%
MINNEAPOLIS STAR-TRIBUNE             320,076    -0.71%
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES                           312,141    -0.04%
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE             312,118    -15.72%
BOSTON GLOBE                                    302,638    -13.68%
CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER                291,630    -11.70%
DETROIT FREE PRESS                         290,730    -5.90%
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER                     288,298   -13.72%
NEWARK STAR-LEDGER                       287,082   -16.82%
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES                      283,093   -10.42%
OREGONIAN                                           268,512   -11.76%
ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION    261,828    -19.91%
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE               261,253     -9.53%


Top 25 U.S. Newspapers by Sunday circulation

Title                                                        March 09        +/-  

NEW YORK TIMES                              1,451,233    -1.70%
LOS ANGELES TIMES                        1,019,388    -7.49%
WASHINGTON POST                             868,965    -2.38%
CHICAGO TRIBUNE                               858,256    -4.50%
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS                      644,766    -8.43%
DETROIT FREE PRESS                         585,022    -3.52%
HOUSTON CHRONICLE                         583,364    -7.81%
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER  & #0160;                  550,400    -12.03%
DENVER POST                                       526,235    N/A*
ARIZONA REPUBLIC                              516,562    0.20%
MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE             497,678    -6.93%
DALLAS MORNING NEWS                     474,923    -8.71%
BOSTON GLOBE                                    466,665    -11.27%
ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION   462,011    -7.07%
NEWSDAY                                               426,510    -3.44%
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH                   415,815    0.30%
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES                      413,929    -4.36%
NEWARK STAR-LEDGER                       404,903    -19.08%
CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER                 393,352    -8.11%
SEATTLE TIMES                                     376,515    -7.99%
MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL        361,355    -6.03%
NEW YORK POST                                   357,168    -11.00%
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE             354,752    -16.45%
BALTIMORE SUN                                   351,243    -5.83%
KANSAS CITY STAR                              333,006    -3.57%

* Denver Post's averages only cover the one-month after the Rocky Mountain News folded, rather than the entire six-month period.

SOURCE: Audit Bureau of Circulations FAS-FAX for six months ending in March 2009 and March 2008.

Florida newspaper circulation figures:

Newspaper                    Monday-Friday     Change       Sunday     Change
St. Petersburg Times     283,093               - 10.42%     413,929     - 4.36%
Orlando Sentinel            206,205                - 9.4%        315,298     - 5.0%
Miami Herald                 202,122                - 15.8%      270,166     -13.2%
Sun-Sentinel                  195,522                - 10.4%      285,196     - 6.0%
Tampa Tribune                195,277                - 11.4%     284,583     + 0.3%
Florida Times-Union         122,655                - 15.1%     177,591     - 11.8%
Palm Beach Post             143,221               - 12.9%     178,928     - 8.5%
Sarasota Herald-Tribune     97,254                - 15.4%     116,294     - 13.6%

Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations Fas-Fax as reported by St. Petersburg Times

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:57pm]

    

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