Seattle Papers Buck Downward JOA Circ Trend

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

Seattle’s once-feuding joint operating agreement (JOA) partners proved the exception to the rule Monday as they reported circulation gains, while other JOAs reported across-the-board decreases.

And in an even more extraordinary exception, it was the market-lagging Seattle Post-Intelligencer that showed the bigger gain in the JOA. In the Audit Bureau of Circulations FAS-FAX report for the six-month period ended March 31, the Hearst Corp.-owned P-I’s average paid circulation Monday-through-Friday was 129,563, a gain of 1.2%.

The Blethen family-controlled Seattle Times also reported a weekday increase, up 0.5% from the year-ago period to 220,863.

Seattle’s combined Sunday paper recorded a circulation decrease of 3.4% to 409,231.

That paled, however, in comparison to the substantial fall-off in Sunday circulation at another big JOA. Sales of the Sunday Denver Post plummeted 14.8% — a decrease of more than 100,000 copies — to 600,026.

On weekdays, the JOA decreases in Denver were smaller but still dramatic.

The Post reported a Monday-through-Friday circulation of 225,193, down 11.36%. The Rocky Mountain News had a nearly identical circulation of 225,065, also off 11.3% from the year-ago period.

In Utah, The Salt Lake Tribune — like the Denver Post, owned by Media News Group — reported weekday circulation down 5% to 121,699. Its JOA partner, The Deseret Morning News, was down weekdays 1.6% at 73,817.

On Sundays, the Tribune reported circulation of 143,296, off 4%. The Deseret Morning News Sunday circ fell 3.2% from 2007 to 75,022.

In Arizona, the much-smaller newspaper in the Tucson JOA, Gannett Co.’s Tucson Citizen, fell 8.6% to 23,756.

Lee Enterprises’ Arizona Daily Star was also down for the reporting period, decreasing 2.5% to 113,373.

The Sunday Star was off 2.9% for the period, to 164,033.

In the Fort Wayne, Ind., JOA, The News-Sentinel dropped 8.3%, to an evening circulation of 24,196. The Journal Gazette was off 3.9% on weekdays to 64,304. The Sunday paper dropped 5.1% compared to last year, with sales of 114,485 copies.


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This story has been corrected. ABC said it provided an incorrect Spring 2007 circulation number for the Denver Post in the FAS-FAX. With the correct, and higher 2007 figure, the Post’s weekday decline from the year-ago period was 11.36%, not 8.1%.

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