Newspaper Circulation Still Declining

Monday, April 26, 2010

Newspaper circulation is still falling according to Monday's figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations as reported in The Huffington Post.

Overall circulation is down 8.7 percent, for the period October 1,2009 through March 31, 2010 compared to that same period last year. Circulation for Sunday papers is down 6.5 percent.

Free news on the Web is still considered a factor. Publishers have increased subscription costs to adjust for lost advertising revenue and of course others have stopped or reduced delivery in certain areas.

The Top 25 newspapers in the country showed major losses.

  • The Washington Post is down 13.1 percent; 8.2 percent down on Sundays.

  • USA Today lost 13.6 percent - partially contributed to the slump in travel because it is popular in hotels and airports. It is now at the number two spot.

  • The Wall Street Journal had a gain of .5 percent and now has the highest circulation at 2.09 million as it surpassed USA Today as the top newspaper. Although this is somewhat misleading because looser auditing standards allows it to count its digital online replica in the subscription count. In essence providing a double count. The Journal's paid online circulation rose by 31,000 offsetting the printed editions decline of 20,000.

  • The New York Times has the third highest circulation at 951,063, which is a 8.5 percent decline.

  • The San Francisco Chronicle is down 23 percent.

The Wall Street has launched a metro edition in New York City to compete even more agressively with The Times, its biggest competitor in the region.

The president of the Newspaper Association of America, John Sturm, says that you can't judge the industry by these declining numbers, because more and more people are turning to the Web for their news and 100 million adults still say they read a newspaper daily and 168 million read news in print or online daily.

These facts and figures help to paint a clearer picture of the state of the newspaper industry and how it is affecting journalism. I don't know that I would refer to it as a death spiral for the newspapers because people are still reading the news; where they are getting it has changed.

There are just so many options available. It is apparent that the business model has to change as we have heard from various sources throughout the BNR course. Perhaps charging for access does make sense in some instances. I also agree with the idea of public funding to protect the integrity of journalism and insure that students who want to go into journalism for the love of writing and reporting get the opportunity to do so without living in poverty due to thier chosen career.


Rachel Gull April 26, 2010 at 9:33 PM  

The Wall Street Journal was the only newspaper you listed whose readership increased. You mentioned that this was likely due to their online subscription being counted as a separate subscription, in essence, counting doubly.

My parents receive the WSJ, and the online subscription comes free with a year's print subscription. It's quite strange that the WSJ counted its online subscription but others like the Times did not.

Anonymous,  April 27, 2010 at 1:48 PM  

I would also support government funding for news as it truly is a public good in my opinion. Our changing market will not continue to invest in journalism coverage if they can't make a certain profit level.

I'm not sure what business model could save the industry, but after hearing about the loss of coverage and journalists over the past few years, it is very concerning to me that we are getting only limited information for news and what we get may be based upon profitability.

Tyler Lloyd April 27, 2010 at 11:26 PM  

This isn't good news. I wrote a blog on this earlier in the year and sounds like it has gotten even worse sense then. Does anyone really think that print news will ever be extinct? I don't think it is pheasable but those in this industry for money better start moving online and they better do it fast. The early bird gets the worm.

Cory Keasey April 28, 2010 at 7:55 AM  

Online media is the future. Personally, I think that we still have a ways to go before it all will be completely online. We'll have to wait till the electronic generation is older. Many people that are older prefer newspapers. That is because they were not raised with items like iPods and iPads. What i see in the future is, which they might have something like this floating around somewhere, that there will be a device that will recieve the newspaper anywhere you go. Many things (smartphones) already have some type of capability.

I actually disagree with the government funding though. Journalism I feel doesn't need it. There will always be news, this field is advanceing not dying out. Time for people to look towards the future cause we seem to be heading that way regardless of what people want.

Kari.Ratkovich May 2, 2010 at 3:39 PM  

No one can argue that newspaper circulation is down, but one thing most of these reports don't consider is when the company's themselves choose to stop circulation in remote locations to cut costs. For example, a local newspaper has decided to stop delivering the paper to certain locations because it is actually costing them more to drive there and deliver than they are actually making. Another example would be when the company pulls a newstand in a location or street corner that doesn't turn over quickly enough and will move it to a more lucritive spot. (while circulation decreases in said zip code, it increases in another).

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