Free Newspaper Circulation Rises Again, Audits Show

By: E&P Staff

Press release from issuing company.

Iowa City, IA – The combined circulation of free community newspapers grew 1.41% year over year, according to preliminary analysis by Circulation Verification Council. The independent, third-party reporting audit company’s early data also shows an impressive yearly gain of 2.15% for free magazines, while shoppers remained stable, down less than a quarter of a percent between the second and third quarters.

The latest round of audited circulation data remain consistent with prior reports of solid, stable performance in hometown communities ( “These are outstanding results,” stated Brian Gay, Chairman of PaperChain and Executive Director of Midwest Free Community Papers, adding “all the more so in this economic environment.” Mr. Gay also drew attention to the fact that the audit results, current and historic, only tell the story of the community papers’ print products. “These are honest, straightforward counts of hometown papers on the kitchen table,” noted Gay, “not double or triple counting of the same person viewing a publication across platforms and gadgets. Our digital readership is exploding, but we’re not selling the same reader three times over to our advertisers.”

PaperChain is your connection to local audited free community papers. Chairing the Campaign Committee, Dick Colvin, Executive Director of Texas Community Newspaper Association, touted the power of the latest circulation gains. “Our industry has a compelling story to tell advertisers, a combined audited circulation over 65 million. Local advertisers have understood the power of audited free circulation for more than a generation, that’s results based appreciation. More recently, major accounts have begun to see the light,” Colvin said.

But Mr. Colvin also raised the looming concern about possible confusion over standards and metrics. “Just as national advertisers and agencies have finally gotten past the ‘people only read what they pay for’ myth and developed an understanding of free circulation backed by rigorous bona fides, they might get confounded by the loosened rules going into effect for other print media,” he said. “I don’t think the majority still can pass the last test on the electronic, bundling and one penny rules from April 2009.” (take ABC’s Quiz here:

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