"Shocking declines" is the headline on Editor and Publisher's report today about U.S. newspaper circulation over the past six months.
Many big-city newspapers found themselves with double-digit losses, as readers continue to desert the mainstream print media. The San Francisco Chronicle, for example, is down 25% in the past six months; the Boston Globe 18%, the Chicago Sun Times 12%, the Chicago Tribune 9.7%, USA Today off 17%. Here is E&P's story, and a list showing that only one of the country's 25 largest newspapers -- the Wall Street Journal -- managed to avoid circulation losses in the past six months.
Here in Wisconsin, the news is not that dire -- but still depressing.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is down 6.1% daily; the Journal Times is off just 1.7%, and the Kenosha News is down 4%. On Sundays, the Journal Times was virtually unchanged, the Journal Sentinel was off 7.5% and the Kenosha News is actually up 1.4%.
These numbers come on the heels of years of gradual declines. Our March report is here.
Here are the actual numbers for the six months ending Sept. 30, as reported by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the industry's circulation accounting arm.
The Journal Times sold an average of 27,134 papers Monday through Saturday during the past six months; last March, they reported 27,627. One year ago, the slightly different Monday through Friday-period numbers were 28,039. On Sundays, the Journal Times sold an average of 29,424 newspapers during the past six months, down just six purchasers from the 29,430 the newspaper reported in March. But compared to one year ago's 29,947, the paper is off 1.7% in a year.
The Journal Sentinel sold an average of 190,841 papers Monday through Saturday during the past six months; last March they reported 203,240; one year ago, 212,158. The Journal Sentinel's Sunday circulation reported today is 334,240; six months ago it was 361,355 and a year ago it was 375,431 -- a 12-month decline of 10.9%.
The Kenosha News sold an average of 22,959 papers Monday through Saturday; six months ago they reported 23,939. One year ago, the slightly different Monday through Friday period numbers were 23,926. On Sundays, the Kenosha News actually showed growth, selling 26,540 papers on average, compared to six months ago's 26,222 and year ago's 26,373.
The big picture, according to industry blogger Alan Mutter, is that only about 13% of the U.S. population read a newspaper these days. Total U.S. newspaper circulation is 41 million -- the same number it was in the 1940s, when the U.S. had half as many people as it has today.