The Top U.S. Newspapers for March 2012

Neal Lulofs, Executive Vice President and General Manager, ABCi

ABC released the semiannual newspaper FAS-FAX and Audience-FAX report today. This FAS-FAX report includes top-line circulation data for all newspaper members for the six months ending March 31, 2012. Newspapers participating in Audience-FAX have additional print and online readership and website activity data included in the report.

Key Statistics
Fueled largely by increases in digital circulation and branded editions, daily circulation for the 618 newspapers reporting comparable multiday averages rose .68 percent. Circulation for the 532 newspapers reporting comparable Sunday data increased 5 percent.

On average, digital circulation now accounts for 14.2 percent of newspapers’ total circulation mix, up from 8.66 percent in March 2011. Digital circulation may be tablet or smartphone apps, PDF replicas, metered or restricted-access websites, or e-reader editions. Branded editions, newspaper-owned products such as commuter, community, alternative-language or Sunday-Select type newspapers, make up 4.5 percent of newspapers’ total average circulation, up from 3.36 percent in March 2011.

Today’s report only includes top-line information on circulation categories like digital and branded editions. More in-depth information, such as digital distribution platforms, will be available as newspapers’ Publisher’s Statements are released. ABC members may also subscribe to the eFAS-FAX analyzer tool.

Although not directly comparable to today’s data, the Newspaper Association of America’s does maintain a chart of historical circulation information.

Due to the many ways that newspapers now distribute and market their content — metered paywalls, mobile apps, bundled subscriptions, branded editions — ABC cautions against drawing too many direct comparisons of the data in today’s FAS-FAX report.

Recent Rule Changes

Significant ABC U.S. rule changes in the past 18 months have addressed the newspaper industry’s continuing transformation and publishers and advertisers emphasis on cross-media audience metrics, not focusing solely on paid print circulation.

The first newspaper numbers to reflect those changes were seen in 2011, and therefore, the March 2012 report marks the first time there are year-over-year numbers that reflect these changes. The changes include the introduction of “verified” circulation and branded editions, and new ways to audit and report digital editions published on websites, tablets, or smartphones.

Rules now allow newspapers more flexibility to develop publishing plans that cater to their markets and report these expanded platforms to ABC. Some newspapers may use branded editions (such as community newspapers), others may use targeted programs, and some may be focusing on their digital edition strategy. Because newspapers have various publishing plans, it is important to understand the different categories on the report and how those programs may impact a newspaper’s overall circulation. Due to the many ways that newspapers now distribute and market their content — metered paywalls, mobile apps, bundled subscriptions, branded editions — ABC cautions against drawing too many direct comparisons of the data in today’s FAS-FAX report.

As a refresher about what’s included in “total average circulation”:

  • The paid/verified circulation model defines paid circulation as copies purchased by an individual recipient or a specialized distribution channel (such as business/traveler). Verified circulation includes much of what used to be reported in “other” paid circulation (including third-party copies and copies distributed to schools and newspaper employees).
  • Branded editions are editions of the newspaper that are published at least weekly, have a different name than the member newspaper, but are labeled to include the word “edition.” Branded editions may include commuter, community or alternative-language newspapers.
  • Digital editions are distinguished between replica and nonreplica, which both need to have restricted access. Replica editions must have the same editorial, layout and ROP advertising as the print version. Nonreplica editions must maintain the print version’s basic identity, although its editorial and advertising content may differ.

The FAS-FAX report details several of these circulation categories, and each should be compared with its like category. For example, it would be incorrect to compare core newspaper and its branded editions to the circulation of just a core newspaper. More detail will become available as individual Publisher’s Statements are released.

For more on digital newspapers, check out this blog about digital data in the FAS-FAX report. A fact sheet and a list of frequently asked questions about the changes are also available here.

Accessing the Full Report

The full FAS-fax report containing data on more than 800 daily and weekly U.S. and Canadian newspapers is available in the e-Data center on ABC’s website. ABC members will need their user name and password to access the report. If you are not an ABC member, you can read more about the benefits of membership on our website.

Top 25 Charts

Below are a few charts pulled from today’s report: the top 25 Sunday and weekday U.S. newspapers by circulation and the top 25 U.S. newspapers with digital editions.

You can also review historical charts for the March and September 2011 reporting periods.


Average Circulation at the Top 25 U.S. Daily Newspapers
Preliminary Figures as Filed with the Audit Bureau of Circulations – Subject to Audit
Newspaper Name  Print Total Digital Total Excluding
Branded Editions 
Total Branded
 Editions 
Total Average
Circulation as of 3/31/12
Total Average
Circulation as of 3/31/11
% Change
WALL STREET JOURNAL 1,566,027 552,288 2,118,315
2,118,315 2,117,796 0.02%
USA TODAY 1,701,777 115,669 1,817,446
1,817,446 1,829,099 -0.64%
NEW YORK TIMES 779,731 807,026 1,586,757
1,586,757 916,911 73.05%
LOS ANGELES TIMES 489,514 100,221 589,735 26,840 616,575 605,244 1.87%
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS 400,061 156,470 556,531 23,105 579,636 530,924 9.17%
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS 139,825 66,213 206,038 369,748 575,786 577,662 -0.32%
NEW YORK POST 408,579 146,748 555,327
555,327 522,875 6.21%
WASHINGTON POST 467,450 40,165 507,615
507,615 550,821 -7.84%
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES 200,503 68,986 269,489 152,846 422,335 419,408 0.70%
CHICAGO TRIBUNE 387,217 27,373 414,590
414,590 437,205 -5.17%
DALLAS MORNING NEWS 202,123 49,795 251,918 153,431 405,349 404,951 0.10%
DENVER POST 240,200 150,920 391,120 10,000 401,120 324,970 23.43%
NEWSDAY 284,357 113,616 397,973
397,973 298,759 33.21%
HOUSTON CHRONICLE 254,696 91,422 346,118 37,889 384,007 364,837 5.25%
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER 205,412 55,921 261,333 63,958 325,291 343,709 -5.36%
PHOENIX REPUBLIC 320,696 904 321,600
321,600 337,170 -4.62%
MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE 239,797 60,533 300,330
300,330 296,417 1.32%
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES 239,190 19,955 259,145 40,352 299,497 292,441 2.41%
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER 162,821 20,774 183,595 97,217 280,812 182,964 53.48%
NEWARK STAR-LEDGER 197,034 81,906 278,940
278,940 229,253 21.67%
OREGONIAN 226,659 21,174 247,833
247,833 260,386 -4.82%
CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER 232,288 14,283 246,571
246,571 254,372 -3.07%
SEATTLE TIMES 206,517 30,412 236,929
236,929 253,740 -6.63%
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE 204,245 13,334 217,579 13,163 230,742 218,614 5.55%
DETROIT FREE PRESS 132,635 98,104 230,739
230,739 246,169 -6.27%

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Average Circulation at the Top 25 U.S. Sunday Newspapers

Preliminary Figures as Filed with the Audit Bureau of Circulations – Subject to Audit
Newspaper Name Print Total Digital Total Excluding
Branded Editions
Total Branded
Editions
Total Average
Circulation as of 3/31/12
Total Average
Circulation as of 3/31/11
% Change
NEW YORK TIMES 1,265,839 737,408 2,003,247
2,003,247 1,339,462 49.56%
LOS ANGELES TIMES 850,267 102,494 952,761
952,761 948,889 0.41%
HOUSTON CHRONICLE 459,231 67,086 526,317 390,617 916,934 587,982 55.95%
CHICAGO TRIBUNE 755,265 24,175 779,440
779,440 780,188 -0.10%
WASHINGTON POST 688,576 30,725 719,301
719,301 852,861 -15.66%
DALLAS MORNING NEWS 321,592 41,537 363,129 339,719 702,848 375,101 87.38%
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS 204,766 41,848 246,614 443,644 690,258 636,999 8.36%
DETROIT FREE PRESS (e) 458,963 5,811 464,774 198,213 662,987 614,226 7.94%
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS 480,131 155,007 635,138 25,780 660,918 584,658 13.04%
DENVER POST 420,172 124,191 544,363 51,000 595,363 519,837 14.53%
MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE 475,955 38,502 514,457 29,729 544,186 516,136 5.43%
ARIZONA REPUBLIC 513,469 886 514,355 24,224 538,579 511,764 5.24%
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER 413,371 72,137 485,508 31,802 517,310 488,286 5.94%
NEWSDAY 350,057 145,359 495,416
495,416 362,221 36.77%
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES 197,140 73,458 270,598 164,263 434,861 421,455 3.18%
NEW YORK POST 287,089 147,303 434,392
434,392 355,770 22.10%
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES 415,612 16,590 432,202
432,202 429,048 0.74%
NEWARK STAR-LEDGER 321,944 62,224 384,168 29,304 413,472 337,416 22.54%
ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION 399,004 3,598 402,602
402,602 391,815 2.75%
CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER 329,130 11,440 340,570 60,564 401,134 403,001 -0.46%
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER 287,149 10,118 297,267 88,016 385,283 287,657 33.94%
BOSTON GLOBE 332,208 33,304 365,512
365,512 356,653 2.48%
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE 282,140 8,914 291,054 73,400 364,454 296,272 23.01%
SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS 242,292 9,904 252,196 101,376 353,572 254,968 38.67%
SEATTLE TIMES 300,737 33,450 334,187 12,402 346,589 346,993 -0.12%

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Top 25 U.S. Daily Newspapers with Digital Editions

Preliminary Figures as Filed with the Audit Bureau of Circulations – Subject to Audit
Newspaper Name  Digital
Replica 
Digital
Nonreplica
Total Digital Total Average
Circulation as of 3/31/12
NEW YORK TIMES 30,329 776,697 807,026 1,586,757
WALL STREET JOURNAL
552,288 552,288 2,118,315
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS 38,676 117,794 156,470 579,636
DENVER POST 48,612 102,308 150,920 401,120
NEW YORK POST 24,559 122,189 146,748 555,327
USA TODAY 97,001 18,668 115,669 1,817,446
NEWSDAY
113,616 113,616 397,973
LOS ANGELES TIMES 12,564 87,657 100,221 616,575
DETROIT FREE PRESS 96,333 1,771 98,104 230,739
LOS ANGELES INVESTORS BUSINESS DAILY 44,509 49,507 94,016 156,269
HOUSTON CHRONICLE 71,486 19,936 91,422 384,007
NEWARK STAR-LEDGER 23,084 58,822 81,906 278,940
ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS 64,530 11,372 75,902 205,171
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES 31,972 37,014 68,986 422,335
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS 52,677 13,536 66,213 575,786
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE 35,020 28,632 63,652 229,174
MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE 54,769 5,764 60,533 300,330
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER 40,845 15,076 55,921 325,291
DALLAS MORNING NEWS 49,795
49,795 405,349
DETROIT NEWS 46,608 323 46,931 125,639
MIAMI HERALD 42,316 2,915 45,231 160,988
BALTIMORE SUN 31,739 11,127 42,866 179,574
RIVERSIDE PRESS-ENTERPRISE 33,623 7,880 41,503 131,872
WASHINGTON POST 29,608 10,557 40,165 507,615
SALT LAKE TRIBUNE 28,595 8,460 37,055 110,546



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