Monday, October 27, 2008

The Wisconsin State Journal will rule us all

Newspaper circulation numbers were released today and all the top 25 papers are dropping circ like hot anvils, and everything is bleak, and the internet still exists, and yadda yadda yadda so forth and so on.

Here's an interesting stat in the numbers however: the top 25 papers that actually gained circulation. Note that only two of them are large (above 90,000) and only four others are above 50,000. I'd love to know what the Wisconsin State Journal has done to boost their numbers 10 percent this year.

Meanwhile, the nation's elite class of newspapers — the ones with the resources and talent that traditionally produce in-depth, groundbreaking work — are all losing readers, sometimes precipitously (AJC lost 13 percent this year; The Philly Inky lost 11 percent). Meanwhile, these smaller papers in smaller markets have been able to gain some traction. You could hypothesize that this is the future fate of newspapers, that the ones in small markets will survive, even thrive, since many are the only news and information source for the local community. But it makes you wonder: what do people think to themselves when they stop picking up the Washington Post or the New York Times? Is it that the journalism is better in these smaller markets, or that the paper in those areas is still just too indispensible a part of people's lives? Will they ultimately suffer the same fate as the biggest 25, just on a longer timeline?

Here's the numbers (via Fitz and Jen at E&P):

WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL -- 97,012 -- 10.61%
MACOMB DAILY (MICH.) -- 46,014 -- 9.40%
THE VILLAGES DAILY SUN (FLA.) -- 30,616 -- 6.98%
TRENTON TIMES (N.J.) -- 53,303 -- 5.34%

FARGO FORUM (N.D.) -- 49,834 -- 4.70%
BOWLING GREEN DAILY NEWS (KY.) -- 20,804 -- 4.01%
MAUI NEWS (HAWAII) -- 20,887 -- 3.99%
SANTE FE NEW MEXICAN -- 25,616 -- 3.70%

IRON MOUNTAIN DAILY NEWS* (MICH.) -- 9,303 -- 3.69%
ELKINS INTER-MOUNTAIN* (W.VA.) -- 10,583 -- 3.67%
CHAMPAIGN NEWS-GAZETTE* (ILL.) -- 41,578 -- 3.21%
DESERET MORNING NEWS (UTAH) -- 71,133 -- 2.09%
SANTA MARIA TIMES (CALIF.) -- 18,823 -- 2.08%

ERIE TIMES-NEWS (PA.) -- 56,124 -- 1.81%
BEND BULLETIN (ORE.) -- 32,951 -- 1.79%
PARK HILLS DAILY JOURNAL* (MO.) -- 8,023 -- 1.79%
QUAD-CITY TIMES (IOWA) -- 50,820 -- 1.66%

BEAVER COUNTY TIMES (PA.) -- 39,417 -- 1.55%
ARIZONA DAILY SUN -- 11,292 -- 1.54%
SOUTHERN ILLINOISAN -- 26,256 -- 1.50%
BATON ROUGE ADVOCATE (LA.) -- 92,030 -- 1.35%

Interesting note: Ken Doctor at Content Bridges points the finger at the quality of the content. Makes sense to me:
One big reason the numbers are declining is the product itself. In the last year, we've seen unprecedented cuts in the product -- and the customers are noticing. It looks like the amount of newsprint is down about 10-15%; some in stories, some in ads. Trusted bylines have disappeared overnight. Readers notice, and talk to their friends, and they're saying: it's not the newspaper it used to be. When the subscription notices come, they're a little less likely to be acted upon.


Barry said...

delete the internet!

Peter said...

The industry should just hit control-alt-delete and start over by delivering content in the ether, through mind-control and other methods

Michael said...

I'd like to say that the State Journal found the answer that will pull newspapers out of their slump. Sadly, neither visionary strategy nor brilliant journalism are reasons for their recent success.

The paper's chief competitor, the Madison Capital Times, one of the last afternoon papers in the nation, went online only earlier in the year, and the State Journal picked up some Cap Times readers.