Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Here are 2005-2010 circ losses for all U.S. dailies; Courier News in N.J. leads list, documents show

The Courier News in Bridgewater, N.J., had the biggest percentage loss in weekday circulation from 2005 to 2010, according to a new review of data for all of Gannett's 81 U.S. community newspapers, as published in the company's annual shareholder reports.

Bridgewater's circulation fell 51%, to 18,437 from 37,282 over those six years, my review shows.

The average for all the papers: a 27% decline, to a total 3.4 million weekday copies at the end of last year vs. 4.7 million in 2005.

I didn't include USA Today in this review because its business is so different from the community papers. USAT's circulation was 1.8 million at the end of last year vs. 2.3 million in 2005 -- a 22% decline, according to the annual reports.

Also, it's important to note that GCI had eight fewer papers in 2010 than in 2005, after selling those titles. Including the largest, The Honolulu Advertiser, they had combined circulation of 366,000.

The paper with the smallest loss was the Pacific Daily News in Hagatna, Guam: Its circulation fell just 10%.

I had previously calculated losses only for GCI's 10 biggest newspapers. I did the new review at the request of a Gannett Blog reader.

Across the industry, weekday circulation fell an average 16.4% from 2004-2009, to 45.7 million copies, according to the Newspaper Association of America. That's the most recent six-year period available on its website.

Where does your paper rank?
Go to this spreadsheet for data on all 81 papers in 2005 and 2010. Here are the top 10:

Note on Visalia, Tulare
GCI has combined the circulation for California's Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare Advance Register in the 2010 annual report, instead of listing them separately, as was done in 2005. Combining the two figures in 2005, I calculate a 22% loss for the papers over the six-year period. But that's not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison.


  1. Great stuff. Very solid reporting.

    Combined with lower page counts, web width reductions and cut-off changes, Gannett has saved millions.

  2. Only 30% for montgomery??? Most of that was cutting delivery territory, so it would be interesting to find out what the true numbers of coverage area today vs the same area in 2005.

  3. WOW! And a lot of this is self inflicted..SAD.
    My old circulation director would not have accepted this without raisin hell..and making changes in Mgt....of course he no longer works for GANNETT

  4. If the Gannett average is 10 points worse than the industry average, that's a cause for pause, especially since most of these papers are not in highly competitive markets.

  5. Craig Sevier9/13/2011 11:00 PM

    Reno Gazette-Journal circ, the only game in town: down 30% from the advent of the likes of Dubow & Company.

    I witnessed the difference. To be fair, there's a recession... there's the Web that they still can't get right... and a huge slide of content quality... but if my results in real terms as some lowly "clueless" employee were reduced by nearly a third (!), I would have been fired in a heartbeat -- and rightly so!

    Not so for this current group of millionaire posers. They've evidently got an entirely different work ethic all their own -- and it has nothing to do with journalism.

  6. Fine job on this.

  7. Some of Jersey papers, and I'm not sure exactly which ones, combined with the APP, which could account for their drastic drop in circulation. It's partially the exact same papers every day with a different flag on them. So maybe they switched some subscribers over to the APP or one of the other papers where it made sense. That could explain the relatively smaller loses at the APP.

  8. Should say, "practically the exact"

  9. No one outside the APP territory is switching subscription to APP. Part of the reason Morristown, Bridgewater and East Brunswick are down so much is that the APP regional "mothership" sucked their resources dry and were treated like second-class products by the APP regional desk. Meanwhile, they borrowed talent from those properties while prioritizing the preservation of their own, keeping some mediocre staff at APP while casting off many experienced and talented staff at the others. Now that those other properties have been gutted to the core, APP will have to begin eating itself. Expect a big circulation drop there in the near future. No more tricks left in the bag.

  10. 8:04, you have got to be kidding! PG and JJC have directly caused the loss of readership at the C-N thru their commitment to not covering local news. More columns about non-Jersey issues of no interest to local residents -- that's the ticket, to oblivion. But I guess the demise of the C-N is acceptable to the Gannett NJ's leadership. Let's see how many Philadelphia references are in the next JJC column!

  11. I'm a former Gannett New Jersey newsroom employee, and from the day I started working there a little more than a decade ago it was clear the Gannett corporate culture as well as environments at each paper in the state were more based on the whims and careers of individuals than on creating a dynamic news organization and producing a quality news product.

  12. Has anybody been paying attention? Circulation from 2005-2010 was down at every newspaper in the nation. Somebody has to be last.

  13. Does anyone have any idea at all why they haven't shuttered C-N? or the Daily Record? At the very least NJ papers should have been consolidated long ago. Anyone out there have any theories?

  14. It would make sense to consolidate news operations fully, cease publications of the smaller failing papers, and maintain Bridgewater, Morristown, and East Brunswick as bureaus while produced zoned editions under a single flag, which might give the organization a better profile and help it compete with the Star[Ledger's statewide presence.

    Gannet New Jersey, if not all of GCI, seems very slow to implement any progressive changes.


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