The Wall Street Journal topped this morning's Audit Bureau of Circulations list of the nation’s largest-circulation papers. The Journal was the only daily among the 10 largest to gain in the latest six-month period, E&P says.
Industry-wide, average daily circulation fell 8.7%. That's not as steep as the 10.6% drop in the last reporting period, which ran from April through September last year. Sunday circulation fell 6.5%. Even so, The New York Times says in its story: "The reality facing American newspaper publishers continues to look stark."
USA Today's report shows the paper is still reeling from a slowdown in its key readership market, business travelers -- one pinched by a deep recession that remains in a weak recovery. The paper is trying to claw back its circulation. It started selling papers last month in 6,500 Starbucks stores, for example, but that only began in the middle of the month -- too late in the latest ABC period to make a real dent.
Advertising rates are based on circulation, so the ongoing decline continues to weigh on the paper as it struggles to recover lost revenue. Gannett's recent first-quarter earnings report raised questions about USAT's progress in reversing those steep ad losses, which came on Publisher Dave Hunke's watch. He was named publisher a year ago this month.
What's more, the circulation tumble punches a hole in the paper's recently launched trade campaign, meant to burnish the USAT brand and boost advertising sales. The campaign's tag line -- "What America Wants" -- now risks becoming an industry punch line.
Top three dailies
USAT remained No. 2 among the 10 largest, E&P says:
The Wall Street Journal
- March 31, 2010: 2,092,523
- March 31, 2009: 2,082,189
- Change: +0.5%
[Image: today's paper, Newseum]