Leading U.S. Newspapers Take Huge Circ Hits

Newspapers are taking big hits across the board, according to the most recent semi-annual FAS-FAX report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC). During the six months ending in September, total daily circulation sank 2.8% compared to the same period last year, while Sunday circulation dropped 3.4%. The latest round of bad news reinforces the last FAS-FAX report covering the six-month period up to March 2006, which showed total paid circulation sinking 2.5% from last year. The previous report, covering the six months before September 2005, had total paid circulation down 2.6%.

The U.S.'s leading national and regional dailies were affected to varying degrees. The New York Times saw daily and Sunday circulation fall about 3.5% to about 1,087,000 and 1,624,000, respectively. The Washington Post daily circ fell 3.3% to 656,000, and Sunday fell 3.6% to 930,000. USA Today's daily circulation fell 1.3% to about 2,269,000. And at The Wall Street Journal, daily circ dipped 2% to about 2,043,000, while the weekend edition sank 6.7% to 1,946,000.



The ABC report probably won't be much help to the Tribune Company as its tries to drum up buyer interest in its various properties, including its three biggest papers. Flagship Chicago Tribune performed best, with daily circ only dropping 1.7% to 576,000, and Sunday circ dipping 1.3% to 938,000. But the Baltimore Sun's daily circ fell 4.5% to 236,000 as Sunday circ tumbled 9% to 381,000. The embattled Los Angeles Times saw daily circ decline 8% to 776,000 as Sunday circ dropped 6.1% to 1,172,000.

Some of the worst results came from the Boston Globe, another big regional daily owned by the New York Times Company that may also be up for sale. Continuing its free fall, the Globe's daily circ fell 7% to 386,000 and Sunday circ plunged 10% to 587,000. Not coincidentally, the Times' New England group, led by the Globe, has also been the company's poorest performing division in terms of ad revenue.

That said, the Globe is not alone. Other big-city papers are beset with circulation woes.

The Philadelphia Inquirer lost 7.6% of its daily circulation, ending up at 331,000, while Sunday circ dropped 4.5% to 682,000. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution held its own in daily circ, which sank just 3.5% to 350,000--but took a big hit on Sundays, which fell 8% to 524,000. The combined English- and Spanish-language editions of the Miami Herald turned in similar numbers, with daily circ down 8.8% to 266,000, and Sunday circ down 8.4% to 459,000. The San Francisco Chronicle's daily circ fell 5.4% to 374,000, as Sunday circ fell 6.3% to 433,000. Finally, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune's daily circ fell 4.2% to 359,000, and took a 6.4% hit in Sunday circ, ending at 596,000.

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