Newspapers: Declines Offline Offset By Gains Online

Despite slight declines reflected in recent circulation and readership reports, newspapers are experiencing increased attention to their online sites, according to the latest from the Newspaper Association of America. This trend occurs as reader satisfaction with content and advertising found in the print product grows, the NAA says.

Newspapers and other traditional media continue to feel the impact of emerging media, as the latest Competitive Media Index showed audiences for print and broadcast media declined slightly or just held steady. Newspaper readership fell slightly, according to the Fall 2000 CMI, an analysis by NAA of top-50 market data from Scarborough Research. Daily readership was down to 55.1% from 56.2% in the spring, and Sunday declined to 65.1% from 66.2% in the spring.

The Fall 2000 CMI also showed that the average half-hour of prime-time broadcast television barely remained steady, gaining slightly to 38.1% from 37.8% in the spring, while the average half-hour of prime-time cable performed about the same, up to 12.2% from 12% in the spring. The average quarter-hour of radio morning drive slipped from 23.4% in the spring to 23.1% in the latest CMI.

"This research confirms what we've all know for some time - that there are simply more media choices out there," said John F. Sturm, NAA president and CEO. "Fortunately, newspapers have made considerable progress developing their online products, particularly in dominating the local-news franchise. Our expectations are that this multi-media offering makes the overall newspaper package an unbeatable combination."

Newspaper circulation also showed a small decrease according to the latest Fas-Fax report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations for the period ending Sept. 30, 2000. According to an NAA analysis of ABC numbers, daily circulation fell 0.41% from the year before. Sunday circulation was down 0.71% for the same time frame. (Circulation analysis is limited to newspapers reporting circulation to ABC in both periods ending Sept. 30, 1999 and 2000.)

The 785 newspapers reporting daily figures showed an overall drop from 49,683,076 to 49,476,970 for the yearlong period ending Sept. 30, 2000.

Among the top-20 circulation newspapers reporting daily gains were: USA Today (Fri.), 0.5%; The Wall Street Journal (Mon.-Fri.), 0.6%; USA Today (Mon.-Thurs.), 1.3%; The New York Times (Mon.-Fri.), 1.0%; The Washington Post (Mon.-Fri.), 0.03%; Daily News, New York City (Mon.-Fri.), 0.4%; Chicago Tribune (Wed.-Fri.), 0.6%; Newsday, Melville, N.Y. (Mon.-Fri.), 0.2%; Houston Chronicle (Mon-Sat.), 0.8%; The Dallas Morning News (Mon.-Thurs.), 1.1%; Chicago Sun-Times (Mon.-Fri.), 0.6%; The Boston Globe (Mon.-Fri.), 0.4%; San Francisco Chronicle (Mon.-Fri.), 0.1%; The Arizona Republic, Phoenix (Mon.-Fri.), 2.7%; New York Post (Mon.-Fri.), 1.3%; Denver Rocky Mountain News (Mon.-Sat.), 7.7%; and The Denver Post (Mon.-Sat.), 11.6%.

The over 500,000 circulation category showed a sl