Monday, November 05, 2007

And the beat goes on

The latest six-month FAS-FAX numbers are out -- and as expected circulation at the nation's top newspapers is down, sharply in some cases:

Daily (selected largest increases or drops):
USA TODAY +1.04%
NEW YORK TIMES -4.51%
NEW YORK POST -5.24%
WASHINGTON POST -3.23%
NEWSDAY -5.62%
ARIZONA REPUBLIC -3.75%
DALLAS MORNING NEWS -7.68%
BOSTON GLOBE -6.66%
STAR TRIBUNE OF MINNEAPOLIS -6.53%
ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION -9.08%
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE -8.53%

Sunday
NEW YORK TIMES -7.59%
LOS ANGELES TIMES -5.11%
WASHINGTON POST -3.89%
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS -6.81%
DETROIT FREE PRESS 4.28%
DENVER POST/ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS -13.52%
STAR TRIBUNE OF MINNEAPOLIS -4.34%
BOSTON GLOBE -6.54%
STAR-LEDGER OF NEWARK -5.57%
DALLAS MORNING NEWS -7.64%
ARIZONA REPUBLIC -4.64%
ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION -9.16%
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES +0.85% (Yes, this actually is the biggest increase.)

And the beat goes on.

The morning's spins, especially in the case of Atlanta, is that publishers continue to deliberately cut outlying and non-core circulation, but Web audience is up, giving newspapers total audience gains in some markets. This points up a weakness in FAS-FAX as an analysis tool -- it would be nice to have core numbers distinguished. And the total audience argument continues to be a tough sell because the underlying assumption is that all audience is the same. We know it isn't -- online audience is far different in use and in revenue yield, just as online advertising needs to be more targeted. And then there's the matter of duplication -- how do you count someone who reads the paper and the Web site -- one, two, 1 1/2? So the total audience number being pushed by the industry continues to be a bit bogus.

Sidebars:
  • No story online yet from the Denver papers that I can find, but love this lede from the April story: Circulation declines at Denver's two largest daily newspapers showed signs of moderating ... Uh, yup. Down more than 13 percent on Sunday in the latest reading. (To be fair, April's article did foreshadow plans to cut third-party circulation paid for by advertisers.)
  • Love this line from the E&P story: Daily and Sunday circulation at the San Francisco Chronicle has stabilized, down 2.9% to 365,234 and 0.6% to 430,115, respectively. Well, rigor mortis is pretty stable, too. When a decline of almost 3 percent daily is listed under "stabilized," file it under "grasping for straws."
  • E&P also put out a list of the biggest gainers. And where are they? Places like Grensburg, AP., and Dothan, Ala., and Bend, Ore. You get the idea.

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