Fas-Fax: Daily Newspaper Circ Drops 10 Percent; NYT Down, WSJ Up


Credit: Jan Krömer

Newspaper circulation at the 379 daily newspapers reporting to the Audit Bureau of Circulations was down 10.6 percent, the organization’s latest Fas-Fax numbers show (sub. req.). The numbers compare the six months ending Sept. 30, 2009, to the year-earlier six-month period. The New York Times went from over 1 million in last year to 927,000 copies this year, which E&P noted was the first time in decades that the paper’s circulation had fallen below seven figures. The NYT Sunday paper also fell, slipping 2.66 percent to 1.4 million. The WSJ, though, had a slight uptick in circulation and was included in ABC’s top 10 gainers. The WSJ‘s 2 million in paid circulation was up just 0.61 percent, but that was enough to place it at number nine on the top-10 list — and as expected, enough to knock USA Today from the top spot.

Earlier this month, USAT Publisher David Hunke warned staffers that the paper’s circ would sink 17 percent; the Fas-Fax numbers confirmed that, as the Gannett (NYSE: GCI) flagship went from 2.3 million to 1.9 million. After the numbers came out, USAT issued a press release stating it was still number one in print circ. The WSJ’s total paid circ numbers include more than 400,000 electronic edition copies. This circulation is counted as paid circulation and included in the total because it meets ABC’s paid circulation requirements. In comparison, USAT had only 9,512 electronic edition copies.

In addition to the migration of print readers to online, E&P’s Jen Saba points to some other reasons circulatin has been down so much, including a pullback in hotel circulation and reducing distribution to the outer parts of newspapers’ core markets. Another major reason is that, as ad dollars evaporate, newspapers are concentrating more on raising newsstand and delivery prices as a way to build more revenue. Both the NYTCo (NYSE: NYT) and McClatchy (NYSE: MNI) had a 6.7 percent increase in circulation revenue in Q3.

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