Nieman Foundation at Harvard
How did the GE-branded podcast The Message hit No. 1 on iTunes? In part, by sounding nothing like an ad
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Nov. 1, 2013, 2:12 p.m.
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   November 1, 2013

Good piece at Poynter by Andrew Beaujon on the new U.S. newspaper circulation numbers released yesterday and the increasing silliness of digital circ totals.

Circulation in September 2013 rose at The New York Times, fell at The Wall Street Journal and skyrocketed at USA Today, according to figures released Thursday by the Alliance for Audited Media. AAM is no longer releasing lists of the nation’s largest newspapers, citing “the change to comparative five-day averages” as more newspapers change their print publishing schedules. In fact, the new figures make many comparisons challenging.

Take USA Today, whose average Monday-Friday circulation rose an eye-popping 67 percent in September 2013, from 1,713,833 the year before to 2,876,586. Its print circulation, however, fell 19 percent year-over-year. USA Today’s averages include 1,545,364 digital replica and non-replica editions, up 1,690 percent from the 86,307 it counted in September 2012 (not to mention 14,357 branded editions).

Sam Kirkland looks more deeply at the USA Today numbers and finds it’s a reporting change, not a real gain. (Meanwhile, USA Today’s circulation revenue fell in the most recent quarter.)

The last time AAM released an actual list of the highest circulation papers, in April, the Houston Chronicle had, through some unusual choices, ended up with the second biggest Sunday circulation in the country, despite being only ninth in print Sunday circulation, thanks to the appearance of 539,691 “branded editions print and digital.”

AAM wrote a blog post in May explaining that a paying print subscriber at a paywalled newspaper can actually count as two “subscriptions” if publishers provide proof that the subscriber activated their username and password for digital. And there’s no reason to stop at two: “each digital platform,” like an iPhone app, can count as its own sub too.

Back in 2010, we told you about the fuzziness of these digital circ numbers, which can be driven by misleading e-edition totals, freebie branded editions being counted as subs, or other numerical futzing. Separately, the Newspaper Association of America turned some heads this year when they suddenly discovered a few billion in unknown newspaper revenue.

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
How did the GE-branded podcast The Message hit No. 1 on iTunes? In part, by sounding nothing like an ad
“I don’t consider it advertising. It’s a podcast show that just happens to be produced by a brand instead of a network.”
America’s Test Kitchen, “the Consumer Reports of cooking,” wants to grow to new platforms
“We’d like to move to other platforms, particularly as we see the changes in how people consume television.”
A program from Poynter and ONA is helping foster a community of female leaders in digital media
The Women’s Leadership Academy provides camaraderie and concrete advice beyond a bundle of platitudes.
What to read next
How one blog helped spark The New York Times’ digital evolution
“I certainly had editors tell me that I shouldn’t be wasting my time on Bird Week. But that was the best part of City Room…We were like unsupervised children.”
572News outlets left and right (and up, down, and center) are embracing virtual reality technology
Among those experimenting is The Wall Street Journal, which plans to open source its 360-degree mobile video and VR technology and hopes to turn VR into more of a mainstay of its storytelling.
502Podcasting in 2015 feels a lot like blogging circa 2004: exciting, evolving, and trouble for incumbents
The same trends we saw a decade ago — professionalization on one hand, platformization on the other — sure seem to be playing out again.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Zonie Report
Public Radio International
MediaNews Group
The Miami Herald
Foreign Policy
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Detroit Free Press and Detroit News
The Daily
National Review
Plaza Pública