April 27, 2009

Journal Times' circulation drops 4.6% on Sundays

Newspaper circulation continues to decline -- across the country in almost every big city, and here in Southeastern Wisconsin as well.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations released figures today for the six months ending on March 31, 2009. Editor and Publisher, a newspaper trade magazine, summed it up this way: "The largest metros continue to shed daily and Sunday circulation -- now at a record rate."

The daily circulation of at least two big-city papers -- the New York Post and the Atlanta-Journal Constitution -- was down 20%. Double-digit drops, like the Boston Globe's 13.6%, were not uncommon: The Miami Herald fell 15.8%; the San Francisco Chronicle, 15.7%.

On average, the 395 newspapers reporting lost 7% of their daily circulation; in a nation of over 300 million people, only 34 million newspapers are bought daily (some are shared, of course). The loss was a little less for 557 Sunday newspapers reporting: circulation was down 5.3% to 42 million.

The newspaper news from around here fell into the same pattern.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel dropped 6.7% daily, and 6% on Sunday. Average weekday circulation was 203,240 for the six months ending March 31, compared with 217,755 a year earlier. Sunday was down to 361,355, compared to 384,537 in 2008.

The Journal Times had average Sunday circulation of 29,430 for the six months ending March 31, compared with 30,859 a year earlier, a decline of 4.6%. Weekday figures were not comparable due to an Audit Bureau rule change, but here are the figures we do have: Monday-Saturday circulation is now 27,627; a year ago, the JT's Monday-Friday number was 28,100, and its Saturday number was 26,664; in September 2008 the JT reported weekday sales of 28,287. (The JT got smaller in a different way earlier this month as well, cutting its physical page size by almost 10%.)

The Kenosha News reported Sunday circulation of 26,222, compared with 26,502 a year earlier, a 1% decline. Its weekday numbers also aren't exactly comparable but here's what's reported: 23,939 Monday - Saturday; a year ago, its Monday - Friday circulation was 24,535, and its Saturday number was 23,246; and in September 2008 its weekday circulation was 24,552.


  1. i think today's JT lead story about a duck living under a slide will make their numbers soar to all-time highs. once again, brilliant on their part.

  2. The J-T will not cover what is going on in Racine. Blows the coverage on crime, has no clue about what is happening in the Mayor's race. As well runs story after story on rehabing Becker gee why are their numbers down?
    The J-T should have no worries I am sure Obama will bail them out too after all they will as they have carry water for the Dems

  3. Upon the review of all major dailies - http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003966608 – there is a common trait – those of the left persuasion are experiencing the greatest declines. It’s no wonder that the democrats are attempting to throw them a lifeline. If there is no longer an audience to support the operations (and pay the advertising), let them die.

    I myself have cancelled 3 daily subscriptions having tired of the daily rant of ‘it was or is Bush’s fault’ and publishing ‘false, yet accurate’ articles.

  4. Why do you care? Get a life!

  5. Secret Military Clarence4/28/2009 8:28 AM

    Well at least we know the JT is behind Turner 100% based upon the bylines on Sunday....
    Turner "serves" Dickert "political career"


  6. Take a wild guess why the JT is behind Turner......It's very obvious.

  7. Anon 11:54 -- But they're not behind Turner, at least not editorially! Also, they're not behind Dickert. Today's mayoral "editorial" was notable for two things:

    1. Not endorsing a candidate
    2. Not making any mention of Jody Harding

    Editorially, the JT is hewing to its new policy of "we don't take sides in the most important issue facing the city." Give 'em credit for consistency -- but an F for leadership.

    We hear a lot about declining newspaper circulation numbers and shrinking page size, but the changes are much more significant: the whole role of newspapers -- their position in the community -- is diminishing. Pretty soon, they won't matter at all. A terrible loss.

  8. Pete they do not matter now, and they did this to themselves.
    The newspapers no longer control access to information the public we have so many other places to get what we need to know vs what the newspapers want to feed us.

  9. Pete, I agree with you regarding the diminishing role of the newspaper. It is a shame. There's nothing better than a well researched, well written, well edited piece of journalism. Racine deserves a better newspaper. It's clear good management is lacking at the Urinal Times.

  10. Thee once was a time when newspapers were essential. You needed to subscribe to know what was going on in the community. And in that context, they could afford to take a leadership role. They could endorse and take positions on key issues. Readership was a given, regardless of their stance.

    Now, if they endorse one side, tons of people on the other side call and cancel their subscriptions. And with the circulation plunge of recent years, every subscriber counts. So they play it safe hoping to keep the numbers from declining any further. Hard to blame them, but it also waters down the product and that only drives people away, too.

    Ultimately, they damned if they do and damned if they don't.

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