Circulation Down at Top Papers

Article excerpt

Byline: Kara Rowland, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

All but three of the 25 biggest daily U.S. newspapers reported a drop in average daily circulation in the past year, according to industry data released yesterday, underscoring the popularity of the Internet and cable television.

Average daily circulation at 770 U.S. newspapers fell 2.8 percent in the six-month period ending Sept. 30, compared with the same period in 2005, according to the Newspaper Association of America, a Vienna, Va., trade group.

Sunday circulation declined 3.4 percent, the NAA said in an analysis of industry data compiled semiannually by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, a nonprofit group of advertisers and publishers.

The Washington Post, the seventh-largest daily newspaper, saw a 3.31-percent slump in circulation, dropping to 656,297. The Washington Times gained nearly 4 percent, improving circulation to 100,074.

Dick Amberg, The Times' vice president and general manager, called the increase "a result of hard effort. We're still not where we want to be," said Mr. Amberg, who noted that home-delivery and single-copy sales "are especially hard to acquire. We're happy to be over 100,000. It's a benchmark we always aspire to."

USA Today, the leading U.S. paper in terms of average daily circulation, reported a 1.32 percent slip to 2,269,509. The second-ranked Wall Street Journal fell 1.94 percent to 2,043,235.

Circulation declined by 3.5 percent at the New York Times, the third-largest daily, to 1,086,798.

The Los Angeles Times, ranking fourth, reported the largest drop among the nation's top 25 papers, sinking by more than 8 percent to 775,766.

The paper, owned by the embattled Tribune Co. - which also owns the Baltimore Sun - is a prominent example of the struggle of newspapers everywhere to cut operating costs and compete with "new media" destinations such as blogs and Internet news sites.

"The outlook of all print publishers is not that great," said Gary Arlen, president of Arlen Communications Inc., a Bethesda media research and consulting firm.

"Newspapers can't keep up when you publish once a day and those who care about the news are on a 24-hour news cycle. …