U.S. newspaper circulation fell 2.1 percent in the six months through March as the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post lost readers, the Newspaper Association of America said.
Circulation at 745 daily newspapers was 45 million, down from 45.9 million in the same period a year earlier, the association said yesterday in a statement, citing data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Subscribers fell 2.6 percent during the same period a year earlier.
Customers are canceling subscriptions in favor of getting news and information from the Internet, dragging down revenue from circulation and advertising. Subscriber losses, historically around 1 percent every six months, accelerated to more 2 percent in the past two years.
“It’s still over 2 percent rather than under 1 percent, and that’s a concern,” said Bryan Jackson, director of newspaper investment for OMD, a division of Omnicom Group Inc., the world’s largest advertising company.
Average Sunday circulation for the period fell 3.1 percent.
Six of the 10 largest dailies and 555 of the newspapers in the survey reported weekday and Sunday sales declines. Average weekday paid circulation at the Los Angeles Times fell 4.2 percent in the six-month period while the Chicago Tribune declined 2.1 percent, according to parent Tribune Co., which agreed this month to go private.
Average weekday circulation at the Washington Post slid 3.5 percent. The Boston Globe, owned by The New York Times Co., fell 3.7 percent for the period. The New York Times declined 1.9 percent.
At the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, daily circulation fell 11.6 percent, to 84,754, based on a six-day average. For the Sunday Telegram, circulation was down 5.9 percent, to 102,922.
Circulation at Gannett Co.’s USA Today, the country’s largest newspaper, rose by 0.23 percent to 2.27 million. Readership of Dow Jones & Co.’s Wall Street Journal, the second- largest paper, also gained, rising 0.61 percent to 2.06 million after a redesign in January.
New York tabloids The New York Post and The Daily News, both recorded increases.
“Not to minimize that decline, but focusing on net paid circulation is like focusing on total televisions sold rather than total audience,” said John Kimball, the NAA’s chief marketing officer. “The print product is just one of the portfolio of products that newspaper publishers are producing.”
Newspapers are trying to turn advertisers’ attention to their Web sites to help stem the decline in ad revenue. Ad sales fell 4.5 percent in the most recent quarter, according to company reports.
“We believe total print and online readership as opposed to circulation is the number that people should be focusing on,” said Frank Whittaker, vice president of operations for Sacramento, Calif.-based McClatchy Co..
Whittaker, who spoke before the numbers were released, oversees McClatchy newspapers in California, Florida and Kentucky. The Sacramento Bee’s circulation fell 4.8 percent and Miami Herald dropped 5.8 percent.
Shares of McLean, Va.-based Gannett, the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, increased 31 cents to $57.06 at 4:02 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Chicago-based Tribune, the second-largest, was unchanged at $32.80. New York Times declined 8 cents to $23.40.