Further decline for newspapers

Times Staff Writer

Newspaper circulation continued to decline nationwide, according to a report released Monday, but many individual publications and a trade group countered with figures showing that the papers’ audiences were growing online.

Weekday circulation at 745 daily newspapers dropped 2.1% to 45.9 million, and Sunday circulation at 601 newspapers fell 3.1% to 48.1 million, according to the Newspaper Assn. of America. The figures compared the six-month period that ended March 31 with the same period a year earlier.

The trade association sought to counter those figures by re- releasing recent research that showed use of newspaper websites increased 5.3%, to 59 million people, in the first quarter of 2007 compared with the same period a year ago.


Newspaper owners are so intent on including the broader view of their total audience that they have helped persuade the organization that tracks newspaper performance -- the Audit Bureau of Circulations -- to incorporate online usage into its figures next year.

The Los Angeles Times was like many of its big-city counterparts in continuing to experience circulation losses. The newspaper’s daily circulation fell to an average of 815,723, a 4.2% decline, compared with the same period a year earlier. Its Sunday circulation dropped 4.7% to 1,173,000.

The Times attributed much of the decline to the continued scaling back of programs that distributed free papers in schools and at hotels. Executives at the paper said they were encouraged that “individually paid” daily circulation -- papers delivered at homes and sold at newsstands -- increased fractionally to 779,256.

The Times hit its print circulation highs in 1991, with more than 1.2 million copies of the paper sold each weekday and nearly 1.6 million on Sundays.

The use of increased 15%, to 65 million page views, in January over the year before.

“Even as we are rapidly growing our online audience, it’s clear that great print journalism still plays a big part in the 24/7 multimedia world our advertisers, readers and users want,” Times Publisher David D. Hiller said in a statement.


Other papers in Southern California suffered even sharper losses. Daily circulation of the San Diego Union-Tribune slumped 6.6% to 296,000. The Orange County Register fell 5.1% to 285,000, the Riverside Press-Enterprise was off 6.7% to 173,000 and the San Fernando Valley-based Daily News dropped 7.3% to 146,000.

One of the biggest declines in the region was experienced by the Santa Barbara News-Press, where owner Wendy McCaw and some of her employees have been feuding. They have accused her of meddling in news decisions. News-Press circulation during the week dropped 9.5% to 38,000.