Papers spin news on falling circulations

The text below is a news release dated May 7, 2006, taken from the Newspaper Association of America web site. Read between its lines to see what is important to newspaper owners. There is not a word – a single word – about the quality of the stuff, otherwise known as news, between the ads of NAA members’ publications.

There is, however, plenty of spin about how falling circulations everywhere are not really important. Tell that to ex-staffers at The Montreal Star, The Toronto Telegram, The London Daily News, The Washington Chronicle and many, many more papers. Tell that also to the dwindling readers who care about the quality of news reports and understand the fundamental difference between good journalism and “press-release reporting.”

The NAA says “the Association focuses on six key strategic priorities that affect the newspaper industry collectively: marketing, public policy, diversity, industry development, newspaper operations and readership.”

Not a word about good journalism, not even the usual lip service. That should tell you a lot.

Good journalism is expensive. But most publishers probably figure why pay a guy $40 an hour to write 20-column inches of copy when somebody making half the money can fill the same space? What’s the difference?



Online Audience for Newspaper Web Sites Sets Another New Record in First Quarter 2006

Vienna, Va. – An analysis by the Newspaper Association of America finds that the total combined circulation of the top 50 newspapers represents only about one-third (36 percent) of the total daily newspaper print audience, and about 37 percent of the total Sunday print audience. The analysis is based on the latest Fas-Fax data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations and from the Newspaper Audience database (NADbase).


“Both circulation and readership are important, valid measures of the newspaper audience, but counting only the number of units sold on a given day obscures the actual use of newspapers and consumer exposure to advertising,” said NAA President and CEO John F. Sturm. “Our continuing discussions with the advertising community and the third party research we have seen, tell us that audience is important to advertisers because it provides a more accurate measure of newspapers’ total reach. The research also points out how engaged the newspaper audience is with the media – in print and online.”


For the six-month period ending March 31, 2006, NAA’s Fas-Fax analysis of circulation data reveals the average daily circulation for all 770 newspapers reporting for comparable periods was 45,414,979, a decrease of 2.5 percent (from 46,589,261) over the same period a year ago. On Sunday, the average circulation for the 610 newspapers reporting for comparable periods was 48,504,484, a decrease of 3.1 percent (from 50,036,312) over the same period a year ago.


“Newspapers are implementing circulation marketing strategies that deliver the most value to advertisers and make economic sense, such as home delivery and retention programs that result in less subscriber turn-over,” Sturm said. “The focus also is on total audience, and we are now starting to see the positive impact that publishers’ innovations and strategies to broaden their audience online are having on our audiences and readership.”


According to new data released today by NAA, the online audience for newspapers hit record levels in the first quarter of 2006, with more than one in three of all Internet users visiting a newspaper Web site over the course of a month.


The data from Nielsen//NetRatings show that newspaper Web sites averaged 56 million users, or 37 percent of all online users during the first quarter of 2006, an 8 percent increase in reach over the same period a year ago. In addition, of the nearly 112 million people who visited news and information Web sites, more than half (58 percent) of those seeking news and information online turned to an online newspaper Web site.


NADbase is a source of detailed newspaper audience demographic data, reporting newspaper readership and Web site usage for 100-plus newspapers representing most major markets. A list of the top 50 papers, along with their corresponding circulation and readership figures is available on Data for NADbase is provided by Scarborough, a leading media/market research firm, which measures 75 DMAs (including the top 50). Scarborough collects data via telephone interview and a mailed consumer survey booklet and seven-day TV diary.


Newspaper Web site usage data is supplied by Nielsen//NetRatings, a leading provider of Web audience usage data, based on their MegaView Local syndicated service. Data is collected by tracking usage of 345,000 Internet users drawn from a combination of home, work and school.  Data for this report is based on Web usage during the month of November 2005.


NAA is a nonprofit organization representing the $59 billion newspaper industry and more than 2,000 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. Most NAA members are daily newspapers, accounting for 87 percent of the U.S. daily circulation. Headquartered in Tysons Corner (Vienna, Va.), the Association focuses on six key strategic priorities that affect the newspaper industry collectively: marketing, public policy, diversity, industry development, newspaper operations and readership. Information about NAA and the industry may also be found at