‘San Jose Mercury News’ Rockets Into Top Ten Circ List With A BANG

By: Mark Fitzgerald

In last year’s March Fas-Fax from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the San Jose Mercury News didn’t make even the top 20 list of largest-circulation newspapers.

Monday, it was No. 8 on the daily list with an average Monday through Friday circulation from Jan. 1 to March 31 of 516,701.

And it the Mercury News was sixth-largest Sunday paper in the nation with an average circ of 549,023.

The jump was the result of a little-noticed decision to declare the sibling Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times as editions of the Mercury News.

Readers won’t notice a difference because the three papers will continue to report on their local communities as they always have. But MediaNews Group, which has put the three together in the Bay Area News Group (BANG) hopes national advertisers will wake up to its reach in the San Francisco area.

“Quite frankly, San Francisco is the fifth-largest DMA in the country, and you would expect the newspaper in the fifth-largest DMA to be in the top 10 ranking of newspapers,” Mercury News Publisher Mac Tully told E&P.

BANG had been presenting the story of its reach to advertisers with varying degrees of success, Tully said. “This was really targeted towards the large agency media buyers who don’t really understand what BANG is,” he said. “We are a one-order, one-bill, one-opportunity to buy a very large audience.”

Advertisers briefed on the circulation change have been uniformly positive, Tully said. And he notes that advertisers can still buy down to the Zip code level.

There are 13 daily newspapers in BANG, but there are no plans right now to extend the edition-ing to the others, Tully said.

The new combined circulation number for the Mercury News represents a decline from the March 2009 Fas-Fax of 5.4% on weekdays and 3.1% on Sundays, BANG said.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported a daily circulation that fell 22.7% to 241,330 and a Sunday circulation that was off 19.3% from a year to 286, 121.

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