Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
So Youngstown will have a daily named The Vindicator after all. But it’s a brand surviving, not a newspaper.
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Nov. 1, 2013, 2:12 p.m.
LINK: www.poynter.org  ➚   |   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 50,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
So Youngstown will have a daily named The Vindicator after all. But it’s a brand surviving, not a newspaper.
Long after the local newspaper business stops making any sense at all, there’ll be a lot of powerful brand names that will retain value better than what the printing presses pumped out. That’s how we’ll get local news outlets without much local news.
Maybe you know that article is satire, but a lot of people can’t tell the difference
Labeling satire as such may seem to take the sting out of the joke. But it’s also the most effective way we know of to prevent people from taking satirical content as fact — something surprisingly common.
This reporter came for ER bills (with the help of 1,000-plus patients), and now doctors are listening
Sarah Kliff has brought her healthcare billing projects from Vox to The New York Times, reporting on the submissions of thousands of readers. And now she’s written for an audience of practitioners and academics.