U.S. newspaper circulation continues to decline

Editor & Publisher reports that circulation dropped an average of 2.5 percent in weekday circulation and 3.5 percent for Sunday, according to an audit of several hundred newspapers conducted by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The audit compared circulation as of September 30, 2007 to the comparable period last year. E&P took a kindly view of results at the San Francisco Chronicle, where I work, saying “daily and Sunday circulation . . . has stabilized, down 2.9 percent to 365,234 (M-F) and 0.6 percent (Sunday) to 430,115.”

E&P said circulation at the nearby San Jose Mercury News “is showing signs of life. Daily was virtually flat at 228,537. Sunday inched up 0.3 percent to 252,404.”

When I scanned the list of top 25 papers I noticed only three daily circulation gains. Top-ranked USA Today, rose one percent to reach a daily circulation of 2.27 million;  the fourth-ranked Los Angeles Times managed a half-percent gain to 779,682; and the embattled Philadelphia Inquirer gained 2.3 percent to 338,260.

As regards Sunday circulation, only three papers managed gains: the Houston Chronicle sold an additional 635 subscriptions to bring Sunday circ to 693,228; the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gained nearly half a percent on Sunday to 420,222; and the St. Petersburg Times made the strongest showing, gaining nearly a percent to 389,952.