Monday, April 30, 2007

Newspaper circ continues to dip
Bad news out of the newspaper business: Circulation at virtually every big newspaper in the country has dropped. The numbers speak for themselves:

USA Today: 2.23 million [Up 0.2 percent]
The Wall Street Journal: 2.06 million [Up 0.6 percent]
The New York Times: 1.12 million [Down 1.9 percent]
Los Angeles Times: 816k [Down 4.2 percent]
New York Post: 725k [Up 7.6 percent]
New York Daily News: 718k [Up 1.4 percent]
The Washington Post: 699k [Down 3.5 percent]
Chicago Tribune: 567k [Down 2.1 percent]
Houston Chronicle: 503k [Down 2 percent]
The Arizona Republic: 434k [Down 1.1 percent]
Dallas Morning News: 412k [Down 14.5 percent]
Newsday/Long Island, NH: 398k [Down 6.9 percent]
San Francisco Chronicle: 387k [Down 2.9 percent]
The Boston Globe: 383k [Down 3.7 percent]
The Star-Ledger/Newark, N.J.: 373k [Down 6.1 percent]
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 357k [Down 2.1 percent]
The Philadelphia Inquirer: 353k [Up 0.6 percent]
Star Tribune/Minneapolis-St.Paul, MN: 345k [Down 4.9 percent]
The Cleveland Plain Dealer: 345k [Up 0.5 percent]
Detroit Free Press: 330k [Down 4.7 percent]

I wonder what the figures would be if they included Web hits as part of the circ numbers in some way. If you then compared those numbers - the print/Web circ numbers to just the print numbers before the Web existed, what would they be? How would they compare? I bet that you would see that the combined numbers were higher than just the old print numbers.
At the same time, the board which does the counting of the circulation needs to get rid of the formula they use to count actual penetration. The ABC uses a formula of 2.3 actual viewers per newspaper. They assume, basically, that 2.3 people will see each circulated newspaper and then the newspaper uses this figure to pitch penetration numbers to advertisers.
It's a total racket. It would be like a radio station saying, Yeah, we only got a rating of 6, but it's actually 18, since there were three people in each car that had the radio station on the air during the ratings period, so you actually reached three times the listeners. Try selling that to a marketing firm and watch them laugh you right out of the building and yet, newspapers have been getting away with this for years. It's pretty amazing.


Anonymous said...


It seems that the newspapers are partly to blame. Articles in the printed press often refer readers to their websites for more information on a topic. Why read both if you can get it all on the website?

You do make a good point about looking at the combined numbers.

Tony said...

That's a good point Anon 9:22. I do think, though, that with the invention of the Internet, there is a perception that news - and other information - is free, that there is no cost to it, and therefore, some people don't see the value in paying a purchase price for it. Without a purchase price at some point, whether it be advertising support or the price tag on the newspaper, no one gets paid. When no one gets paid, no one is going to do it, or it will be limited to blogging when we have time, and that is just opinion in many ways. Unfortunately, the previous generations didn't do a very good job in teaching the next generation the importance of access to information and news. They did a pretty good job of emphasizing the importance of being a consumer - which they know all too well - but that is another story. Lastly, we are all very busy in our lives now - busier than ever before. If we don't make time to read a newspaper - or watch the news or listen to the news - we miss out and don't understand the value of it. In addition, the old adage most of us late-Xers were taught in school - that technology would make our lives easier and there would be more free time - turned out to be untrue. It was the exact opposite. Thanks for reading!