Newspaper numbers continue tumble
Local newspaper circulations are continuing their downward trend, based on my analysis of the most recent report of data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
The News Leader saw its Sunday circulation drop 1.8 percent in the six-month period ending March 31, 2009, from where it was for the six-month period ending Sept. 30, 2008. The raw numbers on the total paid circulation count were 18,611 for the period ending March 31, 2009, and 18,258 for the period ending Sept. 30, 2008.
A first look at the Monday-Saturday circulation numbers showed a 1.3 percent increase in circulation from September 2008 to March 2009 – from 16,623 in September ’08 to 16,844 in March ’09. A second look that examined sales rung up in the educational programs category showed an increase of papers rung up as sales under that line item from an average of 908 Monday-Saturday for the period ending Sept. 30, 2008, to 1,450 Monday-Saturday for the period ending March 31, 2009.
The 542-paper growth in circulation Monday-Saturday attributed to educational programs outpaces the 221-paper growth in circulation Monday-Saturday overall, meaning one could read the Monday-Saturday numbers for the Leader for March 31, 2009, as also representing a net drop in circulation in the area of 2 percent.
Looking for a long-term trend, I examined where the Leader’s circulation numbers were for the six-month period ending September 2006. The Sunday figure was 20,242, putting the March 31, 2009, number of 18,258 as a 9.8 percent decrease, and the Monday-Saturday figure was 17,761, putting the March 31, 2009, number of 16,844 as a 4.7 percent decrease.
The number of papers in the September 2006 numbers listed as paid circulation through educational programs in the Monday-Saturday numbers was 492. Accounting for the nearly 1,000-paper growth in that line item from September 2006 to March 2009 would put the percentage decline Monday-Saturday above 10 percent.
The trends short-term and long-term are similar at the News Virginian, which saw its circulation drop 4.6 percent on Sundays the past six months, from 6,618 for the six-month period ending Sept. 30, 2008, to 6,314 for the period ending March 31, 2009. Monday-Saturday circulation also dipped 1.8 percent, from 6,786 for the period ending Sept. 30, 2008, to 6,665 for the period ending March 31, 2009.
For sake of comparison, I looked up the number of papers committed to educational programs included in the above totals for the NV, and found that they were consistent for the two time frames – 634 a day Monday-Saturday for the September 2008 numbers and 595 a day for the March 2009 numbers.
Long-term, Sunday circulation from the six-month period ending Sept. 30, 2006, to the period ending March 31, 2009, has declined 12 percent, from 7,172 in September 2006 to the 6,314 number for the March 2009 period, and Monday-Saturday circulation has dropped 9 percent, from 7,322 in the September 2006 accounting to 6,665 in March 2009.
– Story by Chris Graham