The chairman of the Associated Press says he's "mad as hell" at people who don't pay for news. Is that why his newspaper is reportedly impossible to cancel?
As newspapers bleed print readers, the Los Angeles Daily News seems to have hit upon a circulation strategy that WORKS: make it super hard to stop delivery, then sic a collection agency on delinquent "subscribers."
Hey, how about some more terrible news? The LA Times is laying off 75 people from editorial. "This is about 10% of our total staff and these cuts are comparable in scale to those made on the business side of The Times last week." Sigh. So soon after their redesign launch! Yes well innovation director Lee Abrams will probably have something innovative to say about all this, soon. This is not even the extent of the bad news. See, over the weekend the FAS-FAX circulation numbers came out and basically everyone lost. Circ was down more than 5% for the LAT. Meanwhile, on our coast, the Newark Star-Ledger is slashing 40% of its newsroom staff. They are trying to sell the paper but no one wants it. It is basically a bad time to enjoy getting a paycheck. Sadly, the Newspaper Industry is not too big to fail.
"Top American newspapers posted further declines in weekday circulation in the six-month period ended in March, with the exception of USA Today and The Wall Street Journal... The New York Times was No. 3 at 1,077,256, but that was down 3.9 percent from the period a year earlier... Newspaper circulation has been on a declining trend since the 1980s, but the pace of decline has picked up in recent years as more people go to the Internet for news, information and entertainment." [Times]
Well lookee here! Turns out we weren't too far off with our predictions that the recent price increase at the New York Times might have kicked off a circulation drop. According to the Audit Board of Circulation's six-month report for the period ending in September, daily circ at the Times fell 4.51% to 1,037,828—with Sunday circulation nosediving by 7.59% to 1,500,394, "at least partly due to a price increase," according to Editor & Publisher. Not that we're saying we told you so.
In the just-ended third quarter, the New York Times Company claimed a 22% decrease in newsprint costs. At the same time, they claimed that operating costs are down only 1.5%. We think that's fishy! Here's why. Newsprint and payroll are typically two of the biggest expenditures at a newspaper. The company is claiming an 8% savings based on "reduction in consumption." Cutting its page size might play a part in that, but isn't entirely responsible. We suspect circulation took a hit somewhere.
A correction in today's New York Times addressed their juxtaposition, either accidentally or idiotically, of a photo of a Philadelphia Inquirer and Philly Daily News delivery truck with a business piece on why declining circulation isn't always a bad thing. "Neither The Inquirer nor The Daily News was mentioned in the article, and the photograph was an inappropriate illustration for it." Daily News circ was down 2.3% this year.
This morning, I received a letter at my apartment in Brooklyn. It was from the New York Sun, and they were offering me a free one-year subscription to the "most critically acclaimed newspaper to debut in the city in a generation." (Had they not heard what I think of their editorial product?) It made sense, though, given that the paper recently raised its newsstand price. Because, seriously, is anyone paying for this paper? Click to enlarge!
Men's Health acquiesces to the demand from MediaVest—the ad buying firm whose clients include Wal-Mart, Kraft, Coca-Cola, and Procter & Gamble—that "publishers guarantee each issue's circulation instead of averaging multiple issues like usual." Will other titles follow suit? There's a lot of bluster, but, yeah, probably. [AdAge]
Have you forgotten that it's Audit Bureau of Circulation time? Whee! People's sales declined, probably because a steady diet of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and Britney Spears grows tiring after a while; we need some hot new celebrities to hit the rehab circuit and, sorry, Amy Winehouse just won't cut it. Over on the serious side of things, Time takes a massive hit, dropping 17.1% in paid and weekly circulation against the same period last year. A Time spokesperson claims that the drop is a result of the magazine's heroic struggle for transparency—shedding copies distributed to doctor's offices and the like—and that the industry will eventually be forced to follow suit, which sort of jibes with our theory that it's all part of new managing editor Rick Stengel's plan to make sure there are only seven people who read Time, but that those seven people absolutely savor every single word. [WWD]
- Magazine circulation for the second half of 2006? Not so good. The big winners were the celebrity weeklies and Men's Health, which may have found a winning strategy in sticking Dave Zinczenko on the "Today Show" every goddamn day. The big losers? Everyone else, particularly Marie Claire, some copies of which reportedly returned themselves. [WWD]