‘Journal,’ ‘NY Post’ Shine in Lackluster Circ Report

By: Mark Fitzgerald

Updated at 1:15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Nov. 4

In an otherwise lackluster FAS-FAX circulation report released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal stood out with significant gains — Rupert Murdoch’s feisty tabloid for its sixth consecutive reporting period of double-digit growth, and the national business broadsheet for an eye-catching 16.1% year-over-year increase that is almost totally accounted for by paid subscriptions to its online version.

By adding 290,412 of its online subscriptions to its essentially flat print circulation of 1,800,650, the Journal moved back over the 2-million circulation mark for the first time since the Reagan administration and recorded its highest circulation in its 114-year history: 2,091,062. The Journal said it has 686,000 paid online subscriptions worldwide. Under ABC rules, it was allowed to count not quite half of those in its paid-circulation top-line FAS-FAX number.

This was the first time that Dow Jones included paid WSJ.com subscribers in its ABC circulation numbers. ABC rules allow for electronic editions of daily newspapers to be counted as paid circ — if certain requirements are met.

Gannett’s USA Today remained the biggest-selling newspaper for the six-month period ended Sept. 30. Its circulation was 2,246,996 if calculated Mondays through Fridays. The paper’s Friday edition, with its three-day shelf-life, remains far and away the nation’s most popular weekend paper, with 2,616,824 copies sold — nearly a million more than second place, the 1,676,885-circulation Sunday edition of The New York Times.

The Times‘ daily circulation was up just 0.5%, while the Big Apple’s largest tabloid, the New York Daily News, increased by a respectable 2.1% to 729,124. The biggest story in the city that never sleeps, though, was the Post, which was up 10.6% to 652,426. With its gain, the tabloid nudged the Chicago Tribune, which was flat at 596,667, out of seventh place on the top 10 circulation list.

Flat results were a dominant theme of the FAS-FAX report. As predicted in an Oct. 27 story by E&P, the news events of summer were unable to move the dial on single-copy sales. The results were particularly striking in California, where the intense interest in the gubernatorial recall election failed to translate into significant gains for any metro daily.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that the Journal included all 686,000 of its paid Web subscriptions in its circulation tally. In fact, the newspaper only reported 290,412 of those subscribers.

Top 10 Daily Newspapers

Newspaper Name; Circulation; Change from Year Ago

1. USA Today (M-F*) 2,246,996 0.7%
2. The Wall Street Journal (M-F) 2,091,062** 16.1%
3. The New York Times (M-F) 1,118,565 0.5%
4. Los Angeles Times (M-Sat.*) 955,211 (1.1%)
5. The Washington Post (M-F) 732,872 (1.9%)
6. Daily News, New York (M-F) 729,124 2.1%
7. New York Post (M-F) 652,426 10.6%
8. Chicago Tribune (M-F*) 596,667 No change***
9. Newsday, Melville, N.Y. (M-F) 580,069 0.2%
10. Houston Chronicle (M-Sat.) 553,018 0.2%

* Average calculated by E&P Online
** Figure includes online subscriptions for first time, estimated by Journal at about 686,000
*** Difference less than one-tenth of one percent

Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations FAS-FAX for the six months ended Sept. 30, 2003.

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