Monday, October 25, 2010

Detroit | Freep's daily circ falls 9%, new data show

Now we know why Gannett management is demanding Detroit newspaper workers take a 12% pay cut.

Weekday circulation at the Detroit Free Press plunged 9%, to 245,326, during the six months ended Sept. 30 from the same period a year before, new ABC figures out today show. That's far worse than the average 5% decline for all dailies. Sunday, the most advertising-rich day of the week, was no better: The Freep's sales tumbled 11%, to 494,013, vs. an average 6.5%, according to the ABC.

Among the top 25 papers, The Arizona Republic's fell 2.5% on weekdays, to 308,973. But in an improvement, they were basically flat on Sundays, at a 0.4% decline, to 457,059. GCI has been focusing on Sunday circulation during the past year.

As expected, USA Today's circulation fell in the low single digits: down 3.7%, to 1,830,594 copies, the report shows. GCI Chief Operating Officer Gracia Martore had predicted the decline would be in that range during the third-quarter earnings conference call.

[Updated at 2:46 p.m. ET: Digging deeper into the numbers, however, Advertising Age notes in a new story: "At USA Today, you also have to decide what to make of the distinction between circulation paid for by individuals and circulation distributed free to airline passengers, say, or hotel guests. USA Today's individually paid circulation declined 9.3% to 692,901."]

At one of USAT's chief rivals, The Wall Street Journal, sales grew 1.8%, to 2,061,142. The WSJ and the Dallas Morning News were the only two of the top 25 papers to show growth. The WSJ has been adding more general news -- including sports, politics and lifestyle -- since Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. bought the paper in December 2007.

Among the three national dailies, The New York Times had the worst performance: Weekday sales were down 5.5%, to 876,638. (Sunday was down 3.4%, to 1,352,358.)

Why does the WSJ continue to pull ahead of USAT and the NYT? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write jimhopkins[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the rail, upper right.

[Image: today's Freep, Newseum]


  1. Here's one reason why the Freep's Sunday circulation drop is the second-worst among the nation's 25 biggest Sunday papers: That edition of the paper only has ONE page of Detroit News content. That means that the 40 percent of Detroit newspapers subscribers who buy The Detroit News get nearly nothing from their preferred paper. And guess what? Sunday circulation in Detroit has declined from about 660,000 four years ago -- when the paper was a joint News-Free Press product -- to about 494,000 -- that's about a 25 percent drop. Detroit readers want way more in their Sunday paper than the egotistical, superficial rantings of Mitch Albom and Rochelle Riley!

  2. It pays to invest in news coverage. If any newspaper sustains an investment in their newsroom for more than a year, they will see circulation gains. If they market those successes, they will see more.

  3. Why does WSJ pull ahead of USAT? Simple: Lots of print subscriptions are expensed and paid for by employers. Having a paywall lets WSJ count online subscribers, too. And those are often expensed as well.

  4. Lots of reasons why print is down. Younger people read online. The papers, as a whole are no longer trusted by many Americans and are viewed as liberally biased. The entire mainstream media is suffering from that, from print to the network news (notice their ratings lately?) and a lot of that is likely the preception of liberal bias. The average American simply got fed up with the obvious bias displayed every night.

    WSJ, as one poster says, probably benefits from subscriptions paid by employers, BUT the very high cost of those would seem to offset that advantage. WSJ is seen by many as biased toward business, but on the whole, pretty accurate and fair. Far less biased than their other print counterparts.

  5. Why are USAT and NYT falling behind WSJ? Do the names Jack Kelley and Jayson Blair ring any bells?

    So far, the WSJ has not passed any pieces that were totally fabricated but fit the political template of the management. At one time, the NYT was respected as a news source, no longer. USAT was never respected as a news source. The USAT template was "take a minute and tell me all you know."

    The only reasons for anyone to read USAT over other news sources were because the articles in USAT were not "local, local, local" where the reader wasn't, it was free, and the sports section.

    The only paper that USAT successfully competed against was Frank DeFord's The National (Sports Daily.)

  6. I am so sick and tired of cons whining about the "liberal media" and the "mainstream media" when will this stupid talking point die?

    And now to the point. The reason why the WSJ is doing as well as it is..........

    Because Murdoch is leveraging all the idiots who watch his political tool of a "news" network to buy papers.

    Whose mainstream now beotches!

  7. “Why did the WSJ pull ahead of USAT?”

    Because Gannett finally began coming clean with its “paid” subscription base. That and the WSJ is a far better newspaper offering robust, unique content not readily found elsewhere. It’s why I’ve personally paid for an online subscription to the WSJ since it began and exactly why as a consumer I would never pay for USAT as its content is limited, much of which is available for free elsewhere.

    Gannett’s problem is it told many of us to place all of our content online for free - including content few would get anywhere else, without debate. It’s been given for free for so long that few will easily convert to paying for it.

  8. Love the spinning on these circulation numbers. Advertisers are the biggest suckers in this game of deception.

  9. What happened to the Detroit News during the same time?

  10. To 11:52:

    Did anyone remember that the Detroit Free Press had a price increase to $1.00. I'm surprised their circulation didn't fall more. A 9% loss means they are making A LOT more revenue from circulation with less expenses. That means this headline is not a headline in context of a 12% salary reduction.


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