Oct 27, 2008

Poor circulation*, **

Circulation is down at nearly all of the top 25 daily newspapers. The two exceptions are the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, both of which broke even. The Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Globe, Houston Chronicle, Star-Ledger and AJC saw double-digit declines.

*UPDATE: It struck me in reading these numbers that the idea of the physical newspaper as a secondary source of news is solidifying among readers. I'm sure higher gas prices helped chase off those who subscribe out of mere habit. But given the fact that circulation dropped at major dailies amidst a fascinating presidential campaign and as the economy was just beginning, we're seeing more and more people rely on the Internet for news.

Most news junkies graze among the news sites throughout the day. Those who continue to subscribe to a newspaper either pour over it in the morning before heading to work (ritual) or find in it things that they can't find during the day - in-depth features, crosswords, comics, business stories and editorial/opinion pages, etc. Or, they may turn the paper later in the day when they have time to read through longer articles.

None of this is evidence that newspapers should be cutting back on editorial staff, although I'm sure it will be taken that way.

**UPDATE II: What Ken Doctor at Content Bridges has to say about it:
One big reason the numbers are declining is the product itself. In the last year, we've seen unprecedented cuts in the product -- and the customers are noticing. It looks like the amount of newsprint is down about 10-15%; some in stories, some in ads. Trusted bylines have disappeared overnight. Readers notice, and talk to their friends, and they're saying: it's not the newspaper it used to be. When the subscription notices come, they're a little less likely to be acted upon.


Anonymous said...

The appetite for news is as strong as ever. Anyone who works for a newspaper, interacts with readers and monitors online comments should know that. TV and radio feed off of what newspaper reporters discover. We just need to figure out how to make money with our Web sites, but that's a question for the advertising people, not a mandate to change our product. People want what we're already giving them, which is investigative reporting and coverage of the communities they live in. Slashing staff or newfangled ventures involving videocameras are not the answer.

Anonymous said...

Newspapers are ... yesterday's news. News skills, and good ethics, are essential and valuable. But newspapers, as a medium, are ...

chris bray said...

We finally killed our last subscription a few weeks ago -- to the Sunday NYT -- because the thing gad become so much thinner than the paper we subscribed to. And they kept charging more and more money for delivery. Here's a shittier product, and you have to pay mo- wait, where are you going?

Anonymous said...

Newspaper circulation continues to dip a a rapid pace and yet all we hear is that total readership is up because of the internet product. Who are they kidding?

It is just like killing a section and telling readers the reason is a new and improved version...what bullshit.

In this case the free enterprise system works. A diminished product, higher prices, losing touch with the customer, poor service, and an arrogance at the top.

Newspapers will not find the solution with web products. It may add a trickle of revenue, but, that is all.

Newspapers will not be able to compete in the online sphere because many more folks to it much better. Their assets and structure and their core business model make sense...newspapers currently do not.

Try looking for a car, or a job in the printed pages of a newspaper today. There is not market and it won't be coming back.

Partnerships with Yahoo have not worked for a number of reasons and have hurt the newspapers financially.

The current economic downturn can only make it tougher, if that is possible, for newspapers financial performance.

It is sad.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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