‘Newsday’ Audit Completed, Confirms Circ Overstatement

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By: Jennifer Saba

After a 10-month investigation, Newsday’s audit report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations was released today with the final, official 2003 numbers for the newspaper, which has been mired in circulation problems.

Michael Lavery, ABC’s president and managing director, said in a statement that the results of the audit are “consistent with the ABC Board’s decision in July to censure Newsday.”

For the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, 2003, daily circulation for the paper was 481,816; Saturday’s was 392,649, and Sunday’s was 574,081. These tallies come close to the range that Tribune Co. estimated in September (daily circ at 480,000-490,000 and Sunday circ between 570,000 and 580,000).

For the audit period, ABC found that Newsday overstated its daily circulation by 16.9%, Saturday’s circulation by 5.8%, and Sunday’s by 14.5%.

“We are pleased that this audit has been completed and that the results are consistent with the earlier estimates given to advertisers,” said Timothy Knight, publisher, president, and CEO of Newsday, in a statement.

Newsday also ensured that all those responsible for the circulation fraud have been terminated, according to a statement.

Audits for the periods ending March 2004 and September 2004 are expected from ABC by the end of the year. Circulation figures for Newsday do not show up on the publisher’s statement for the six-month period ending September 2004 due to ABC’s censure of the paper.

Lavery also explained that the audit process was one of the organization’s most “intensive yet,” which scrubbed all aspects of Newsday’s circ including individual subscriptions, distributors, and hawkers. “We felt it was more important to address the need for accurate and trustworthy audit results than to adhere to a timetable,” Lavery said adding that audits usually take six months.

Newsday will now be subject to twice-yearly audits.

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