By: Kristina Ackermann
Just as newspapers continue to evolve — adding and subtracting products and services faster than most readers can keep up with — so too is the Alliance for Audited Media (formerly the Audit Bureau of Circulations) constantly changing its rules and reporting procedures in its effort to provide the most relevant information for publishers and advertisers. The results are a mixed bag, depending on which metric you’re most interested in.
According to AAM’s topline report, daily circulation for the 593 reporting newspapers is down year-over-year .7 percent, and Sunday circulation for the 519 reporting papers is down 1.4 percent from the same period last year. It’s important to note that these numbers include digital and branded editions, two categories that have exploded in recent years as newspapers attempt to supplement their primary print products. AAM states that digital editions now account for 19.3 percent of daily newspapers’ total average circulation, with branded editions accounting for another 5.1 percent of that average.
Our Newsosaur columnist, Alan Mutter, pointed out on his blog that if you look only at print circulation — pertinent because print advertising still pays the lion’s share of the bills at most publications — the country’s top 25 papers experienced a 9.9 percent decline since last year. But, as AAM executive vice president Neal Lulofs told Poynter’s Rick Edmonds in an interview, “The total circulation numbers do not capture the full story any longer.”
To shake things up even more, AAM has decided to make reporting a five-day average optional, so the next reports released in October will offer even less opportunity for comparison and trend spotting.
Here are AAM’s top daily, Sunday, and digital newspapers. Take with as many grains of salt as you see fit. For space, we’ve condensed these lists to the top 10 in each category. For the full release, visit auditedmedia.com.