Newspapers Spin the Bad Circulation News

So we're all dead. Look on the bright side!

How bad is business in the newspaper business?

The Audit Bureau of Circulation released a report this week that newspaper circulation had dropped 5 percent in the last six months.  However, the bureau noted that the bleeding was less severe than in the previous six months.  This was greeted by the nation’s daily newspapers as good news with some publishers saying they were actually pleased by the news.

A sampling of the coverage:

  • From the Boston Globe: “‘The good news is the rate of circulation decline has slowed as we cycle through the impact of the price increases,’ [Globe Publisher Christoper M.] Mayer said.”  Keep in mind the Globe was way over the national average – losing 15.6 percent of its circulation in the period.  The Globe‘s daily circulation is now less than 223,000 and a far cry from its heyday when it had nearly 600,000 subscribers.
  • From the Los Angeles Times: “‘These declines were expected and primarily due to efforts to improve our overall operations and financial position,’ Eddy Hartenstein, publisher of The [Los Angeles] Times, wrote in an e-mail to employees. “It’s important to note that the rate of decline is slowing and we are projecting it to continue to slow.”  The L.A. Times was another newspaper that beat the national average watching its circulation dropped 8.7 percent to just over 600,000.  A far cry from its 1990 circulation of 1.25 million readers.
  • From the Chicago Sun-Times: “Sun-Times Media Vice Chairman Jeremy Halbreich said the paper’s home deliveries now exceed newsstand sales Monday through Friday. ‘This is a very good trend for us,’ he said.” For the record the Sun-Times watched its circulation drop 9 percent to just above 250,000 readers.

And newspaper editors and reporters accuse PR people of spinning the news…

This, of course, is terrible news as many newspapers are literally half as big as they were a generation ago.  And as the old saw goes, every obituary run in a newspaper means one less reader.  Because few members of Generations X and Y subscribe to newspapers.  Why bother when they can use their laptops and mobile devices to access news online?  Many reading the free online content provided by newspapers themselves.

We live in a world where news breaks by the minute, if not the second.  There are few people willing to wait a full 24-hour news cycle to get a printed sheet delivered to their doorstep when breaking news is simply a click away.

Newspapers have a serious crisis on their hands.  And no amount of spin is going to fix that.


Boston Globe article on circulation losses

Los Angeles Times story on circulation losses

Chicago Sun-Times story on circulation losses

Why I Canceled My Newspaper Subscription

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