Media Blog

Newspaper Circ Numbers Fall for Fifth Consecutive Year

The organization that tallies newspaper circulation figures released its annual report this morning and, as expected, it’s not good news for the industry:

NEW YORK Blame the big metro papers — again. The Audit Bureau of Circulations released the spring numbers this morning, revealing more plunges in daily and Sunday circulation.
As in the past, the losses are steep while gains are minimal. This is the fifth consecutive reporting period that overall newspaper circulation experienced big drops, despite easing comparisons. For all papers reporting daily circulation, the number is estimated to have fallen 2.5%, while Sunday is forecasted to have tumbled 3%.
All daily averages reported are for Monday through Friday.
The three large national papers made some strides in increases. However, The New York Times, which usually experiences small gains, lost daily circulation, down 1.9% to 1,120,420 while Sunday fell 3.3% to 1,627,062. USA Today reported that daily circulation was up 0.2% to 2,278,022. As reported earlier, The Wall Street Journal also increased, up 0.6% to 2,062,312.

As a rule, I don’t attribute newspaper circulation declines to liberal bias. Interestingly enough, a University of Chicago study that came out last year found that the opposite is the case. The study concluded that a newspaper’s bias tends to reflect the political leanings of the region it serves. Bias is a circulation-maximizing behavior, as well as a result of the fact that the journalists themselves live among their readers and probably share a lot of their views.
That said, it does seem hard to escape the conclusion that Arthur Sulzberger’s attempt to turn a smug, urban, liberal newspaper into a national daily hasn’t worked out so well. But most sensible people wouldn’t expect it to, would they?

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