Newspaper circulation in the US fell more than two per cent in the six months that ended in March. This was the bleak news this week from the Newspaper Association of America. The circulation of America’s 745 daily papers fell from just under 46 million to 45 million.
The biggest falls were at the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post.
The most significant drop however was in the number of regular subscribers – as opposed to those who buy their papers from newsstands or street corner vendors.
Regular customers, it’s claimed, are canceling their subscriptions, and instead are getting their news from the internet.
Hardest hit have been Sunday papers whose overall circulation has dropped over 3 per cent.
Six of the ten largest dailies in the US reported serious drops in sales. For example the LA Times fell 4.2 per cent, while the Chicago Tribune declined over two per cent. Circulation of the Washington Post dropped almost four per cent, as did the circulation for the Boston Globe. The biggest drop was at the Dallas Morning News – down 14 per cent.
Some papers were able to report an increase in sales, among them the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, which these days is the biggest paper in the US with daily sales of over three million.
Ironically two other papers – at the other end of the scale – that reported an increase in sales were the rival NY tabloids, the NY Post and the Daily News. Both are engaged in a no-holds-barred sales war at the moment.
The Daily News has slashed its weekday price from 50 cents to 25 cents. That was announced just days after The Post announced it was doubling its price – from 25 cent to 50 cents. At the same time The Post said it would reward loyal subscribers who sign up for a year’s home delivery with an ultra-cheap rate of l5 cents a copy. The battle seems to be paying off, at least for the Murdoch-owned Post. It has just announced that in daily sales it has for the first time forged ahead of The News. It now claims daily sales of just under 725,000 – about 6,000 more than The News – which makes The Post now the fifth largest US daily. But is still said to be losing over $10 million a year.