Wednesday, November 09, 2005

old news.

U.S. newspaper circulation falls
By SETH SUTEL
Monday, November 7, 2005 Posted at 11:34 AM EST
Associated Press

NEW YORK — Average weekday circulation at U.S. newspapers fell 2.6 per cent during the six month-period ending in September in the latest sign of trouble in the newspaper business, an industry group reported Monday.

Sunday circulation also fell 3.1 per cent at U.S. newspapers reporting to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, according to an analysis of the data by the Newspaper Association of America.

The declines show an acceleration of a years-long trend of falling circulation at daily newspapers as more people, especially young adults, turn to the Internet for news and as newspapers cut back on less profitable circulation.

In the previous six-month reporting period ending in March, weekday circulation fell 1.9 per cent at U.S. daily newspapers and Sunday circulation fell 2.5 per cent.

Circulation at the country's three largest newspapers was relatively stable, but many others showed significant declines.

Gannett Co.'s USA Today, the largest-selling U.S. daily, slipped 0.6 per cent from the same period a year ago to 2,296,335; The Wall Street Journal, published by Dow Jones & Co., fell 1.1 per cent to 2,083,660; and The New York Times Co.'s flagship paper rose 0.5 per cent to 1,126,190.

Of the rest of the top 20 newspapers reporting, all but one, the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., posted declines generally ranging between 1 per cent and 8 per cent.

The San Francisco Chronicle, published by Hearst Corp., posted a 16.4 per cent tumble in circulation as the newspaper slashed back on less profitable, heavily discounted and giveaway circulation subsidized by advertisers.

Circulation has been steadily declining at newspapers for several years as readers look to other media such as cable TV and the Internet for news. Tougher rules on telemarketing have also hurt newspapers' ability to sign up new readers.

Newspapers also face sluggish growth in advertising, higher newsprint prices and increasing concern among investors about their growth prospects. The second-largest newspaper publisher in the country, Knight Ridder Inc., is facing a revolt from two of its top shareholders, who want the company to be sold.

Four newspapers whose circulation was affected by Hurricane Katrina did not file statements with the Audit Bureau: The Times-Picayune of New Orleans; the American Press in Lake Charles, La.; The Beaumont Enterprise in Texas; and The Daily Leader in Brookhaven, Miss.

Also, four major newspapers which had been barred from filing circulation data for the previous two reporting periods deferred making reports until their next six-month audits are complete. Those papers are Newsday of New York's Long Island; the Dallas Morning News; the Chicago Sun-Times and Hoy, a Spanish-language newspaper in New York.

Here are the average weekday circulation figures for the 20 biggest U.S. newspapers for the six-month period ended Sept. 30, as reported Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The percentage changes are from the comparable year-ago period.

USA Today, 2,296,335, down 0.59 per cent
The Wall Street Journal, 2,083,660, down 1.10 per cent
The New York Times, 1,126,190, up 0.46 per cent
Los Angeles Times, 843,432, down 3.79 per cent
New York Daily News, 688,584, down 3.70 per cent
The Washington Post, 678,779, down 4.09 per cent
New York Post, 662,681, down 1.74 per cent
Chicago Tribune, 586,122, down 2.47 per cent
Houston Chronicle, 521,419, down 6.01 per cent (a)
The Boston Globe, 414,225, down 8.25 per cent
The Arizona Republic, 411,043, down 0.54 per cent (a)
The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., 400,092, up 0.01 per cent
San Francisco Chronicle, 391,681, down 16.4 per cent (a)
Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul, 374,528, down 0.26 per cent
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 362,426, down 8.73 per cent
The Philadelphia Inquirer, 357,679, down 3.16 per cent
Detroit Free Press, 341,248, down 2.18 per cent
The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, 339,055, down 4.46 per cent
The Oregonian, Portland, 333,515, down 1.24 per cent
The San Diego Union-Tribune, 314,279, down 6.24 per cent.
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Four major newspapers deferred filing for the period pending completion of their next six-month audit. Those papers had been excluded from the previous two reporting periods as a penalty for misstating circulation figures in the past: Newsday of New York's Long Island; the Dallas Morning News; the Chicago Sun-Times and Hoy, a Spanish-language newspaper in New York. The first three papers had previously been in the top 20.

(a) Includes Saturday circulation.

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Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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