U.S. newspaper circulation slides


Circulation continues to drop at U.S. newspapers, though the rate of decline slowed from the previous six-month reporting period.

Figures released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations show average weekday circulation fell 8.7% in the six months that ended March 31 compared with the same period a year earlier. Sunday circulation fell 6.5%.

That’s a slight improvement from April through September of last year, when average weekday circulation dropped 10.6% from a year earlier and Sunday circulation fell 7.5%.

Circulation at the Los Angeles Times fell 14.7% to 616,606 on weekdays and 7.6% to 941,914 on Sundays.

Several other of the nation’s top 25 newspapers showed huge circulation losses.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s weekday circulation dropped nearly 23% from the year before to 241,330. At the Washington Post, average weekday circulation fell 13.1% to 578,482 and dropped 8.2% to 797,679 on Sundays.

USA Today lost 13.6% of its circulation and averaged 1.83 million, extending a slump that began with a slowdown in travel during the recession.

The decline last year allowed the Wall Street Journal to surpass USA Today as the newspaper with the biggest U.S. circulation. In Monday’s report, the Journal once again posted the only gain in circulation among the top 25 newspapers that had comparable figures from a year ago. It increased its circulation 0.5% to 2.09 million.

However, the Journal would have had a slight decline in circulation were it only counting printed newspapers. The Journal’s paid online circulation rose about 31,000 from a year ago to 414,025, offsetting a decline of about 20,000 on the print side.

The San Jose Mercury News got itself onto the list of top newspapers in the most recent reporting period, but not with a big gain in circulation. It ranked No. 6 on Sundays, and No. 8 on weekdays, because it started treating the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune, which also are owned by MediaNews Group Inc., as regional editions of the Mercury News.

Other newspapers in Southern California showed declines. The Orange County Register fell 14.81% to 196,684 on weekdays and 6.75% to 280,000 on Sundays; the Daily News in the San Fernando Valley fell 14.02% to 89,804 on weekdays and 0.50% to 96,614 on Sundays; the San Diego Union fell 4.45% to 249,630 on weekdays and 6.04% to 310,869 on Sundays; and the Riverside Press-Enterprise fell 18.22% to 114,556 on weekdays and 19.09% to 119,209 on Sundays.