U.S. Newspaper Circulation Decline Slows to 5 Percent

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U.S. newspaper circulation declines slowed in the six months through September after the New York Times, USA Today and Los Angeles Times lost a smaller percentage of readers at their paid print dailies.

Average daily circulation for 635 newspapers fell 5 percent from a year earlier, according to Audit Bureau of Circulations data released today. It dropped 8.7 percent in the period through March.

“Things are getting worse at a somewhat slower rate,” John Morton, a Silver Spring, Maryland-based newspaper consultant, said in an interview. “It’s reflective of the slightly improving newspaper economy.”

Gannett Co.’s USA Today lost 3.7 percent of its daily circulation, compared with a 14 percent decline in the prior period, while New York Times Co.’s namesake newspaper cut its print readership decline to 5.5 percent from 8.5 percent in the prior six-month period.

Tribune Co.’s Los Angeles Times pared the fall to 8.7 percent from 15 percent, and Washington Post Co.’s namesake daily slowed the drop to 6.4 percent from 13 percent.

News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal, the only paper among the top five to include online readers in its circulation total because they’re paying subscribers, increased circulation by 1.8 percent. Its 2.1 million weekday circulation figure included 449,139 online subscriptions, up from 414,025 for the six months through March.

Sunday Declines

The only other paper among the top 25 to post an increase in paid weekday circulation during the period was A.H. Belo Corp.’s Dallas Morning News, which increased the total 0.25 percent to 264,459, according to the ABC.

Industrywide Sunday circulation fell 4.5 percent, after declining 6.5 percent in the six months through March. The New York Times, the number one Sunday newspaper, lost 3.4 percent of its Sunday circulation. The Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times, the number two newspaper among those published on Sundays, had a circulation drop of 8.4 percent.

News Corp., based in New York, fell 15 cents, to $14.25 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. Times Co., based in New York, added 7 cents, to $7.75 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

Top 25 U.S. Newspapers’ Average Weekday Paid Circulation

                                   Circulation           %Change
Rank   Newspaper               as of Sept ‘10   (Year-over-Year)
1      Wall Street Journal           2,061,142             1.82
2      USA Today                     1,830,594            -3.66
3      New York Times                  876,638            -5.52
4      Los Angeles Times               600,449            -8.67
5      Washington Post                 545,345            -6.43
6      New York Daily News             512,520            -5.82
7      New York Post                   501,501            -1.29
8      San Jose Mercury News           477,592              N/A#
9      Chicago Tribune                 441,508            -5.23
10     Houston Chronicle               343,952           -10.53
11     Philadelphia Inquirer           342,361            -5.29
12     Newsday                         314,848           -11.84
13     Denver Post                     309,863            -9.12
14     Arizona Republic                308,973            -2.49
15     Minneapolis Star Tribune        297,478            -2.32
16     Dallas Morning News             264,459             0.25
17     Cleveland Plain Dealer          252,608            -6.85
18     Seattle Times                   251,697            -4.51
19     Chicago Sun-Times               250,747            -9.03
20     Detroit Free Press              245,326            -9.05
21     St. Petersburg Times            239,684            -0.19
22     Oregonian                       239,071            -4.05
23     San Diego Union-Tribune         224,761            -7.39
24     San Francisco Chronicle         223,549           -11.21
25     Newark Star-Ledger              223,037            -9.34
Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations

# - ABC didn’t provide a corresponding figure for the year-
earlier period because of accounting or distribution changes at
these newspapers.
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