Give-away papers do not have ‘readership’

The news report below (Free newspapers continue to make readership gains) is from The Globe and Mail of March 25, 2006.

It is factually incorrect to use the word "readership" in relation to supposed newspapers that are given away. Their publishers may print 250,000 copies and give them away somewhere - but are they read? The stuff between the ads is usually light, akin to warmed-over press releases.

The legitimate and paid-for journalism of Canada does a terrible job of reporting the news about "the news." Owner chill does not help, unless the story says "we're holding our own against the give-aways" as does the piece by Robertson.

The Asper heirs cause The Regina Sun Community News to be dumped – with a truckload of ad inserts – into my mailbox every week. It is not read. It is an insult to call the stuff between its ads “news.”

If the public will not pay for it, the public does not value it. The journalists of Canada have to get with the story while there may be time to convince the public of the value of their service. The owners and newsmakers (politicians) will not do it for them.


Free newspapers continue to make readership gains

Grant Robertson
Media Reporter

Free daily newspapers made significant readership gains in some of Canada's largest cities last year, although new industry figures suggest their quick growth may be levelling off.

Data released yesterday by Newspaper Audience Databank Inc. show the audience for free commuter papers in Toronto and Montreal grew faster than paid newspapers.

The commuter paper 24 Hours was among the biggest movers, registering a 27.2-per-cent jump in its weekly cumulative readership in Toronto. That category -- defined as the number of adults who said they read the newspaper in the past week -- rose to more than 728,000 readers for the free paper.

Metro, Canada's largest free daily newspaper, had a 4.6-per-cent increase in Toronto, to 824,000 readers. Those increases came amid declines in comparable numbers at the Toronto Sun, which had a 6.8-per-cent drop in its cumulative weekly readership, to slightly less than 1.2 million adult readers. The Toronto Star dropped 4.7 per cent, to roughly 2.02 million readers.

The Globe and Mail's weekly cumulative readership in Toronto was relatively unchanged, increasing by a few thousand to 847,200 readers, while the National Post rose 0.8 per cent to 477,800 readers.

The free dailies also made big gains in Montreal, where 24 Heures registered a 37-per-cent gain in cumulative weekly readers, to 355,900, one of the biggest gains the industry has seen in recent years. Metro rose 10 per cent in Montreal, to 567,000 readers, also outpacing paid newspapers in that market.

"There's a few ups and downs here, but the free commuter papers are the story," said Doug Checkeris, president of Media Co., an ad buyer in Toronto. "There was some question as to how much room there was for another commuter paper [in addition to Metro]. I'd say it looks like there is room."

Comparable numbers for the commuter papers in Vancouver are not expected until early April. However, there are signs that segment of the industry may be starting to level off in Canada. According to NADbank, 14 per cent of Toronto adults surveyed read one of the city's free dailies on a weekday last year, the same as in 2004. In Montreal, that same figure grew only slightly, to 12 per cent from 11 per cent.

"They've reached a bit of a plateau," said Anne Crassweller, executive director of NADbank.

The Globe and Mail had average weekday readership of 931,400 and 1.06 million readers on Saturdays.

In the 49 markets where The Globe and the National Post compete, The Globe had 928,400 weekday readers and roughly 1.06 million readers on Saturdays. The Post had 587,400 weekday readers and 540,300 Saturday readers.

The Post notched a 12-per-cent increase in its weekday Toronto readership, to 217,300 readers, but had a 20-per-cent drop in its Saturday readership, to 166,300. The Globe had 398,900 weekday readers in Toronto, down 4.6 per cent from last year, and 411,300 Saturday readers, a drop of 3.5 per cent.

The Globe recorded a 29.5-per-cent increase in Vancouver readership, where the newspaper has expanded coverage. Average weekday readership grew to 108,000, according to NADbank.

"Over all, newspaper readerships have been declining little by little," Globe and Mail publisher Phillip Crawley said. "So I'm clearly satisfied that we've held the line and we've grown in [Vancouver] where we've been paying some special attention."