The Dead Tree Edition world is reeling this morning, as newspaper circulation figures for the past six months are released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the industry's accountant.
Big readership drops have been reported almost everywhere with two exceptions: fractional gains at the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, which already had the largest circulation in the U.S. Together, they gained 13,000 additional daily readers, to add to their existing 4.33 million -- a gain of .3%. Every one of the next 25 largest papers in the U.S. lost daily circulation, in chunks from 2% to 10.5%.
The news was worse on Sunday: 24 of the 25 largest papers lost circulation; the best-selling U.S. Sunday paper, the incomparable New York Times is down 9.26% (150,000 papers every week!); the Denver Post is down 4.7%; the Chicago Tribune is off 4.46%.
Remember, all these losses above took place over just six months -- since the papers last reported their circulation figures on Sept. 30, 2007.
So much for the big picture; what about here? How's the Journal Times doing? The story is mixed, although you probably won't read it in their pages. The following numbers compare March 2008 figures to March 2007.
The Journal Times' Sunday circulation grew in the past year, from 30,807 to 30,860, a gain of 53 new subscribers. But daily circulation dropped from 28,586 to 28,103, a loss of 483.
Five years ago, the Journal Times had 29,058 Sunday subscribers, and 31,399 daily.
The Kenosha News' Sunday circulation fell from 27,403 to 26,502, a loss of 901; daily dropped from 25,248 to 24,535, a loss of 713. Five years ago: Sunday, 26,613; daily, 29,065.
The bad numbers are bigger in Milwaukee. The Journal Sentinel's Sunday circulation dropped from 400,317 to 384,539, a loss of 15,778; daily dropped from 230,218 to 217,755, a loss of 12,463. Five years ago: Sunday, 434,668; daily, 257,599.
In Madison, the Wisconsin State Journal went from 143,512 to 138,276 on Sunday, a loss of 5,236; its combined daily circulation with the Capital Times went from 106,174 to 104,265, a loss of 1,909. The bittersweet news from Madison this weekend, as the 90-year-old CapTimes published its final edition, is that the WSJ reports retaining all of the CapTimes' 14,000 afternoon subscribers to its morning edition. Five years ago: Sunday, 154,588; daily, 113,189. The New York Times' CapTimes obiturary is HERE. Individual "obits" on all the CapTimes journalists who lost their jobs in the closure are HERE. The CapTimes' farewell editorial is HERE.
Editor and Publisher's list of the top 25 daily papers' numbers is HERE; the Sunday list is HERE.