‘Mercury News’ Exec Explains Big Circ Drop

By: Jennifer Saba

Like many newspapers, the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News is now focusing on home-delivered and single-copy sales while shaving off its dependence on the other-paid category. That’s the major reason, said David Rounds, vice president of circulation at the Mercury News, why circulation fell so dramatically for this reporting period.

Daily circ fell 7.1% and Sunday dropped 9.9% for the six-month period ending March 2005, according to numbers released yesterday.

Specifically, the Mercury News is whittling away at bulk/third-party copies. For the latest reporting period, other paid represented 9.6% of overall daily circulation and 8.1% of Sunday. The paper cut its other paid circulation by 26.4% (daily) and 32% (Sunday) when compared to the same period the previous year.

“We’re on the right track to grow our circulation,” Rounds told E&P. It will take another reporting period before the paper shows a positive turnaround, he confirmed.

The Mercury News began shaving “less quality” copies — an initiative that many Knight Ridder and other papers are following — at the beginning of fall.

Rounds said he hasn’t felt any pressure from advertisers to do away with other-paid circulation. Rather, the trend within the industry has been the main catalyst.

The Mercury News filed its Publisher’s Statement late because the paper has been concentrating on the Audit Bureau of Circulation audit (according to Rounds, auditors showed up about three months late). ABC has been at the Mercury News offices since late January. Rounds said they are wrapping up the audit.

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