Fall in US newspaper sales is accelerating
The economy and swine flu is bad enough, but while big stories fill the front pages of US newspapers, new figures show that the rate of decline in print circulation has accelerated since last autumn.
According to a report in the New York Times, figures out on Monday show a more than 7% drop compared with the previous year.
The industry knows where these people are going as well, but it doesn’t help. They aren’t going away, they are going to the web. As circulation falls accelerated, newspaper website traffic increased 10.5% in the first quarter, but revenue gains have come nowhere near matching that increased audience.
The only paper out of the top 25 in the US to post a circulation increase was The Wall Street Journal, but that rose only by 0.6%, according to the US Audit Bureau of Circulations.
Many of the falls are double digit at newspapers whose future is in doubt like the San Francisco Chronicle (down 15.72%), Houston Chronicle (down 13.96%) and The Boston Globe (down 13.68%).
Top 25 US newspapers by paid average weekday circulation
Title March 09 +/-
USA TODAY 2,113,725 -7.46%
WALL STREET JOURNAL 2,082,189 +0.61%
NEW YORK TIMES 1,039,031 -3.55%
LOS ANGELES TIMES 723,181 -6.55%
WASHINGTON POST 665,383 -1.16%
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS 602,857 -14.26%
NEW YORK POST 558,140 -20.55%
CHICAGO TRIBUNE 501,203 -7.47%
HOUSTON CHRONICLE 425,138 -13.96%
ARIZONA REPUBLIC 389,701 -5.72%
DENVER POST 371,728 N/A*
NEWSDAY 368,194 -3.01%
DALLAS MORNING NEWS 331,907 -9.88%
MINNEAPOLIS STAR-TRIBUNE 320,076 -0.71%
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES 312,141 -0.04%
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE 312,118 -15.72%
BOSTON GLOBE 302,638 -13.68%
CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER 291,630 -11.70%
DETROIT FREE PRESS 290,730 -5.90%
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER 288,298 -13.72%
NEWARK STAR-LEDGER 287,082 -16.82%
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES 283,093 -10.42%
OREGONIAN 268,512 -11.76%
ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION 261,828 -19.91%
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE 261,253 -9.53%
Elsewhere, the New York Times has some personal stories from the heart of the downturn and how some reporters are being hit.
One is that of Todd Smith, a reporter from the St Louis surburbs who was covering a city hall story for the Suburban Journals when a man with a gun and a grudge stormed the building and fatally shot six people, before being killed by the police. Smith was short through the hands, but survived. In April he was laid off.
“I thought my job [as the online editor] was pretty safe,” he said. “And yeah, I thought getting shot for the company might be looked at as something important, but I guess not.”
There is a happier story from Arizona. Paul Giblin and Patti Epler, former journalists at The East Valley Tribune outside Phoenix, were laid off earlier this year and with a few colleagues started The Arizona Guardian, a news site supported by subscriptions and advertising.
Since then, Giblin and Gabrielson have won a string of awards for their project at The Tribune, including, last Monday, a Pulitzer Prize.