Wednesday, November 07, 2007

L.A. Times Daily Circulation Rises, Bucking Trend

At long last, L.A. Times circulation may hopefully have bottomed out, at least for the daily edition. The latest figures out from the Audit Bureau of Circulation show daily Times circulation at 779,682, up about 0.5% from the total last year.

This provides a welcome contrast from the experience of almost all other major U.S. dailies, including other Tribune Co. newspapers, and may indicate that Tribune is putting a little bit more into circulation promotion efforts at the LAT.

It is true, L.A. Times Sunday circulation fell 5.1%, to about 1.1 million, but that could be attributed to such moves as cancelling TV Guide and folding the Book Review and Opinion into one reduced section that sometimes, in all the advertising that's in Sunday's paper, is hard to find.

The L.A. Times circulation increase contrasts particularly with the New York Times, which was down 4.5% in its daily editions, now sinking to close to the million mark at 1,037,000. The New York Times in the past year has reduced the size of its newspaper to save on newsprint, and raised the subscription price annually to over $700.

The New York Times, however, does a much better business online than the L.A. Times. Online advertising revenue now is about 10% of all advertising revenue at the NYT, and a move announced recently, to make all online content free to anyone who wants it, will certainly enhance online readership and sales. The New York Times Web site is clearly superior to the L.A. Times, although the L.A. Times Web site has improved a little.

Some newspapers nosedived in daily circulation, including the Miami Herald, down a whopping 13%, the Dallas Morning News, down 7.7%, the New York Post, down 5.2%, the Tribune-owned South Florida Sun-Sentinel, down 6.3%, the Boston Globe, down 6.7%, Newsday, down 5.6%, the San Diego Union-Tribune, down 8.5%, and the Chicago Tribune down 2.9%.

However two Bay Area newspapers, the San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle, about stabilized their daily circulation. The Santa Barbara News-Press, whose publisher has behaved so disgracefully, was down 14.1% to a pathetic 33,755. It shows that God does function, at least in Santa Barbara.

The only major papers improving circulation were USA Today, up 1% and still the nation's largest newspaper at more than 2.2 million and the Philadelphia Inquirer, up 2.3%.

If the L.A. Times ran a story about the circulation figures, I didn't see it, but publisher David Hiller did issue a short statement welcoming the daily figures and saying the newspaper hoped to do better Sundays.

There is no question, newspapers in most locales are suffering losses to the Internet, which offers not only headlines, but complete stories from many newspapers on the subjects of major interests. It's even easy to read foreign newspapers by simply calling up their Web sites.

But it could well be that the New York Times gains with online advertising will soon be seen at other newspapers. Just this morning, there's a story that newspapers are gathering together to discuss a unified online advertising approach that would maximize such opportunities.

I continue to be troubled by the L.A. Times policy of compressing most circulation to the Los Angeles-Orange County metropolitan area, although I have recently found a few copies in the Bay Area. Given the rise of Hispanic population in the Los Angeles area, as well as other ethnic groups, many of whom speak other languages than English, I think the L.A. Times has to. in the long run, expand its circulation base to the whole state at least. Where would the New York Times be today without its national edition, which now absorbs almost half of total New York Times circulation?

In any case, there are grounds for modest satisfaction with the latest L.A. Times daily figures, and congratulations are in order for circulation chief Jack Klunder, who brings great abilities to the job.

At least, I get my L.A. Times early every morning, which is more than I can say for the New York Times. About once a month, it is not delivered at all, or sometimes it is mixed up with the Daily News of the San Fernando Valley, whose agents deliver the NYT. On two recent occasions, New York Times representatives have told me a replacement paper would be delivered. One came two days later and the other not at all.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken - Can you please contact me. We'd like to extend an invitation to "Lucy Square" dedication.

Tom Quinn

11/07/2007 12:58 PM  

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