Same Song, Same Verse

Circulation numbers continue to get worse.

Newspaper sales continue a steep slide nationally, figures released Monday show, but two New York City tabloids continued to buck the trend, posting the largest gains among major papers.

The industry as a whole reported a 2.1 percent drop in weekday circulation, and 3.1 percent on Sundays, in the six months ended March 31, compared with the period a year earlier. The figures, compiled by the Audit Bureau of Circulations but not yet audited, reflect 745 of the nation’s more than 1,400 daily newspapers.

The figures follow first-quarter reports for the nation’s major newspaper companies that showed falling earnings, declines in advertising and plans for continued staff cuts, heightening fears about the future of newspapers. Circulation figures have dropped gradually for two decades, beginning in the 1980s, but since 2004, the decline has picked up speed as readers and advertisers have migrated to the Internet.

It’s interesting that the Times places itself among those that “held fairly steady”…even though the other two in the group had slight gains while the Times’ decline was slightly worse than the industry average on Sundays, and modestly better than average on weekdays.

Sales have held fairly steady in recent years at the nation’s three largest-circulation newspapers, USA Today (more than 2.2 million), The Wall Street Journal (more than 2 million) and The New York Times (more than 1.1 million). In the most recent period, USA Today and The Journal, which do not print Sunday issues, posted fractional gains, while The Times’s circulation dropped 1.9 percent on weekdays and 3.4 percent on Sundays.

The Los Angeles Times, roiled by internal dissension, leadership turnover and a recent deal by its owner, the Tribune Company, to take the company private, lost 4.2 percent of its weekday sales, and 4.7 percent on Sundays. The Times’s weekday circulation averaged 815,000, almost 300,000 below where it stood seven years earlier.

I guess compared to the LA Times, the NY Times can take some comfort.

Or, as a famous Minnesotan would sing, “The Times, they are a changin'”

My wireless router burned out last week, and I’m just now back on-line at home, so I’m a few days late with this one. Happy to be back.

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Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

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