Newspaper Circulation Report p. 12

By: Mark Fitzgerald Readership slump for many of the nation's largest papers is
now two years old; 17 of the top 25 show average daily declines sp.

THE LATEST FAS-FAX report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations documents a big-city newspaper sales slump that is now two years old.
For the fourth consecutive six-month reporting period, most of the 25 biggest U.S. papers showed year-to-year circulation declines. Seventeen newspapers reported their average daily circulations were down for the six months ended March 31, compared to the same period in 1994.
As in the last two FAS-FAX reports, these latest reports show that Sunday circulations of the biggest papers can no longer be counted on to resist the drag of weekday circulations.
Indeed, in this period the same number of big papers, 17, reported circulation declines both on Sundays and on weekdays.
Even the eight Sunday circulation gainers were hardly cause for celebration. The biggest year-to-year gainer among them was the Newark Star-Ledger, whose Sunday circulation was up 21,036 to 675,531. (Average weekday circulation of the Star-Ledger declined 13,096 during the period to 450,316.)
Most Sunday gains were far more modest, in the range of 3,000 to 4,000 copies ? or less. The St. Petersburg Times, for instance, showed a gain of 403 copies for an average Sunday circulation of 470,924.
Some of the circulation losers, however, reported substantial hits: the Detroit Free Press and News, for instance, off 57,094 copies, and Newsday, reporting average Sunday declines of 56,019, pushing its circulation down to 745,726.
In the declining number of big cities with competing newspapers ? the Houston Post, which folded last month, did not appear in the FAS-FAX, and the Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Sentinel reported results separately for the final time ? circulation losses were generally the rule.
Both Chicago papers showed Sunday and daily declines, for instance.
The market-leading Chicago Tribune reported daily circulation down an average 6,066 copies to 691,283. Its Sunday circulation also slumped, off 11,787 to 1,098,765.
Across Michigan Avenue, the tabloid Chicago Sun-Times, which maintains a 35? cover price that is 15? cheaper than the Tribune newsstand price, reported daily circulation had declined 22,740 to 500,969. Sunday circulation was down an average 23,596 copies to 493,253, the Sun-Times said.
Three of New York City's four dailies reported weekday circulation declines. All the decliners had instituted increases in home delivery or cover price.
As was true in the last reporting period, the biggest decline was reported by Newsday. Its combined Long Island edition and New York Newsday reported a 50,613-copy loss over last year, with weekday circulation down to 669,739. On Sundays, Times Mirror-owned Newsday reported a similar decline, down 55,019 to 745,726.
The New York Times said its weekday circulation had decreased an average 16,344 copies to 1,170,869. The Sunday Times, however, remained the largest Sunday paper in the nation, showing a modest gain of 6,763 to 1,770,504.
The tabloid New York Daily News lost an average 38,213 copies in its weekday sales and was also down on Sunday, with a decline of 15,687 to 974,034.
In contrast to its bigger rivals, the tabloid New York Post celebrated its first full year of ownership under Rupert Murdoch by posting a daily circulation gain of 26,950 to 408,204. The Post does not publish on Sundays.
In Denver, where neither paper made the list of top 25 circulators, both the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post showed Sunday increases.
The broadsheet Post was the market leader with a 10,378 gain to 453,032 on Sundays. The tabloid Rocky Mountain News was also up on Sunday, gaining an average 277 copies to 449,550.
During the week, the Rocky Mountain News continued its circulation lead, although it experienced a total year-to-year loss of 3,401 copies to 336,071. The Post reported daily circulation declined 14,707 to 302,125.
Among the national papers, the Wall Street Journal remained America's biggest daily newspaper, despite a 32,016-copy sales decline that put circulation at 1,823,207.
USA Today bounced back from the loss recorded in the previous FAS-FAX report. It reported circulation was up 13,453 in the latest period, to 1,570,624. This figure does not include the Gannett daily's important bulk sales, which generally account for another 30,000 to 40,000 copies.
Again in this FAS-FAX, USA Today demonstrated the advantage of remaining in the nation's news boxes for three-day weekends. Its separately reported Friday morning edition, which is not taken out of the box until Monday morning, noted average circulation up 42,980 to 1,979,092.
Among the other daily newspapers taking big circulation hits were the Los Angeles Times, down 46,154; San Francisco Chronicle, down 27,298; Detroit Free Press, down 18,648; Philadelphia Inquirer, down 15,321; and the Washington Post, down 12,029.
The Los Angeles Times also lost 44,548 on Sunday to reduce its circulation to 1,457,583 and the combined Sunday Detroit Free Press & News lost 57,094 to cut its circulation to 1,107,645.
Other large Sunday declines were posted by the Boston Globe, down 29,349 to 745,726; the combined San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, down 28,300 to 660,149; and the Philadelphia Inquirer, down 27,936 to 919,389.
In addition to the New York Post, other big daily gainers were the Phoenix Arizona Republic, up 9,999 to 399,702 and the Orange County Register, up 4,009 to 357,788.
Other Sunday gainers included the San Diego Tribune, up 4,013 to 457,835; the Arizona Republic, up 3,694 to 611,704; the combined Seattle Times/Post Intelligencer, up 3,636 to 507,171; and the Baltimore Sun, up 2,968 to 494,542.
?(The biggest year-to-year gainer among the Sunday papers was the Newark Star-Ledger, whose circulation was up 21,036 to 675,531.) [Photo & Caption]
?(The tabloid New York Post celebrated its first full year of ownership under Rupert Murdoch by posting a daily circulation gain of 26,950 to 408,204.) [Photo & Caption]


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