Steep Newspaper Circ Declines Continue; 5-Year Trend Even Worse

DownGraphOn Tuesday, Editor & Publisher released daily and Sunday newspaper circulation figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations as of September 30, along with percentage changes from the preceding year. Showing that the press can't even report accurately about itself E&P's accompanying commentary vastly understated the situation:

Most Major Papers Continue Circ Decline

According to ABC for the 507 newspapers reporting in this period, daily circulation slipped 4.6% to 38,165,848 copies. For the 571 papers, Sunday dropped 4.8% to 43,631,646 copies.

For comparison purposes, in September 2007 reporting period, daily circ fell 2.6% and Sunday was down 4.6%.

"Most"? Try "Virtually All." The daily figures show that all but two of the top 25 papers lost circulation during the previous 12 months (USA today and he Wall Street Journal both gained a "whopping" 0.01%). Only the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, at +0.80%, gained on Sundays. E&P's commentary cited precious few tiny increases at non-Top 25 papers.

If you think the one-year news is bad, check out what has happened during the past five:


The chart differentiates between the three papers that tend to play it straight (emphasis "tend," to allow for USA Today's occasional lapses) and 17 other larger papers whose 2003 information isn't tainted by the circulation scandals earlier this decade.

What a difference playing it straight makes (though it should be noted that the New York Post declined 7.2% during the most recent 12 months after showing mostly gains in the previous four years).

And what a terrible price the metros are paying for their bias and obsessive political correctness. Sure, the Internet has been tough on them, but I maintain that if the public hadn't been starving for fair and balanced alternatives for decades, readers would have migrated to the papers' web sites and would have paid little attention to alternative sites and blogs. That clearly hasn't happened.

I'll leave it to readers to comment on declines at individual papers.

Detailed information is also at



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