Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Circulation Disorder

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Circulation Disorder

Article excerpt

Call it a glass half-full or half-empty, fall's FAS-FAX shows circulation ideas are so far yielding plenty of nothing

Now what? You might expect that to be the industry reaction to the results of the latest FAS-FAX report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations. After all, the bottom line of all those top-line Publisher's Statements would seem to be clear: What newspapers are doing to sell copies doesn't seem to be working, including (at least so far) all the new stuff.

But, then, if you're reading E&P, no doubt you are familiar with the great newspaper industry tradition of explaining away flat or declining circulation results. The weather was too cold, or too hot. Our local team didn't make the playoffs. There was no Big Story or, as now, there were too many Big Stories. How else to explain declining sales at a time when the sons and daughters of newspaper hometowns were marching into Baghdad? Or why the circulations of nearly every California metro daily were flat or worse during a period when the entire state was riveted on the recall election circus?

The Pollyanna party line that is shaping up about this FAS-FAX is that newspapers have "stopped the erosion" in circulation. That, of course, assumes an awful lot about the future. But it's an especially lame response at a time when newspapers have actually bestirred themselves to do something about reaching all those non-readers and former readers.

This time around, remember, newspapers were going to need no excuses. …

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