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October 30, 2006

Dead Tree Lives

Ryan Sager posts up the list of the 25 highest circulation newspapers in the country with the last year's change noted on the right. I knew USA Today was the top paper in the country, but I didn't realize it had more than double the readers of the New York Times. And the New York Post has no surpassed The Washington Post, further signaling the death of civilization. One caveat: These are the print numbers, and it'd be interesting to see how they change if web visits are recorded. Such readers may not do much for the bottom line, but they're readers nonetheless. I got the Times traffic numbers from their site, and depending on which metric you go by (Nielsen or internals), they got either 11 million or 21 million unique visitors in April, which certainly changes how the following circulation numbers look. In any case, for those interested in the dead tree data, the numbers are below the fold.

1. USA Today: 2,269509, (-1.3%)
2. The Wall Street Journal: 2,043235, (-1.9%)
3. The New York Times: 1,086,798, (-3.5%)
4. Los Angeles Times: 775,766, (-8.0%)
5. The New York Post: 704,011, 5.3%
6. Daily News: 693,382, 1.0%
7. The Washington Post: 656,297, (-3.3%)
8. Chicago Tribune: 576,132, (-1.7%)
9. Houston Chronicle: 508,097, (-3.6%)
10. Newsday: 413,579, (-4.9%)
11. The Arizona Republic, Phoenix: 397,294, (-2.5%)
12. The Boston Globe: 386,415, (-6.7%)
13. The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.: 378,100, (-5.5%)
14. San Francisco Chronicle: 373,805, (-5.3%)
15. The Star Tribune, Minneapolis: 358,887, (-4.1%)
16. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 350,157, (-3.4%)
17. The Plain Dealer, Cleveland: 336,939, (-0.6%)
18. The Philadelphia Inquirer: 330,622, (-7.5%)
19. Detroit Free Press: 328,628, (-3.6%)
20. The Oregonian, Portland: 310,803, (-6.8%)
21. The San Diego Union-Tribune: 304,334, (-3.1%)
22. St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times: 288,676, (-3.2%)
23. The Orange County (Calif.) Register: 287,204, (-3.7%)
24. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch: 276,588, 0.6%
25. The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee: 273,609, (-5.4%)

October 30, 2006 | Permalink


It's not quite a fair comparison because the circulation of USA Today includes the numerous copies of that paper which are given away free to hotel guests. (Apparently the fact that you can technically ask the hotel to credit 50c to your bill and not give you a paper makes it technically count as paid circulation.)

Posted by: alkali | Oct 30, 2006 5:11:28 PM

I would have never guessed that the OC Register would be in the top 25.

Posted by: Maria | Oct 30, 2006 5:21:50 PM

Is it a coincidence that the NY Post has been given out free many mornings recently?

In fact, this morning, I was once again harassed multiple times on my way to work by people handing out "FREE!" New York Posts. I've taken to accepting the first one just so as not to be harassed later on. Once in the clear, it's in the trash.

Posted by: A_B | Oct 30, 2006 5:43:52 PM

How appropriate it is on the day before Halloween to have a 'circulation' handle on the walking dead. One wonders how long it took the buggy whip makers to throw in the towel and start making auto jacks, etc.

Yes, curling up with a real newspaper on a Sunday morning (or day off) is nice. But so was riding behind the aromatic horse as he clip-clopped his way to the destination.

So, which one, if any, of the 'leading' newspapers will be the first to really commit to online journalism as their main biz (perhaps printing a shadow paper with just the major news, sports and biz-stuff)?

They are all currently hooked on print advertisements, and that equine specie has been beaten to near extinction.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Oct 30, 2006 6:10:59 PM

Although I've frequently visited the websites for the Post, NYT, the SF Chronicle, and a number of other papers, I not only have I never visited USA Today's website, it never occurred to me that there would be one.

Posted by: mrgumby2u | Oct 30, 2006 7:30:59 PM

Maybe the Washington Post is losing circulation because it's become a shitty newspaper? I'm a daily subscriber and I don't believe what I read in the Post.

Posted by: JR | Oct 30, 2006 9:33:14 PM

Couple of factoids/thoughts:

1. The Audit Bureau of Circulation doesn't count free papers or the print run. They only count paid/ sponsored circ.

2. Almost no readers of USA Today are subscribers

3. Dailies have been losing circ in major metros, but are gaining some back in their free commuter throw-aways (i.e. Express in DC)

4. As long as they're selling ads in print, they'll continue to print on paper. What you see happening right now is media companies managing their losses on their way down.

5. The first major change you'll see is US dailies moving to a tab format. They'd be doing it right now, but they haven't figured out a way to get Macy's to pay the same amount of coin for a much smaller full page.

6. The second major change you'll see is moving all database info to Web only (calendar listings, restaurant reviews, stocks, weather, etc.)

7. Then they'll go weekly, running only their longer investigative pieces and features.

8. Next the weekly will go free.

Posted by: Roxanne | Oct 30, 2006 10:38:44 PM

Yes, more proof that all of the issues of the Left are driven by style and fashion.

"I don't like that paper and more people read it than what I like! End of the world!" vs. "CBS is the most watched news network in the USA, all is well." (the latter from the 1960s.

Posted by: Guy Montag | Oct 30, 2006 10:41:49 PM

Hmmm. I'm surprised that neither the Denver Post nor the Rocky Mountain News is in the top 25. I would've thought Denver, having two daily papers, would have cracked that list for sure.

Posted by: Raf | Oct 30, 2006 11:42:11 PM

USA Today is a paper with truly ridiculous distribution - I remember buying it in Turkey when on vacation 8 years ago. It's also at a lower reading level, making it an easier read (and easier purchase) than the obviously NY-centric Times.

Yes, the NY Post is an awful paper.

Posted by: Jon O. | Oct 31, 2006 3:11:26 AM

Interesting how many people think print is dead.

I read the Washington Post on-line mostly, as I used to do with the NYT until they started that subscription wall nonsense. I do this at my desk, on breaks. My local paper I buy the print version, because my computer is too heavy to carry down the hall or take to the cafeteria. And I won't risk dropping my Blackberry in the sink, toilet or soup tureen.

I think readership losses are coming from two directions. One is the fact that fewer and fewer people have reading comprehension skills, so they don't like to read. One poster noted that USAToday has a lower reading level than do other papers, which partially explains its higher numbers. That and the fact that it appears magically on your hotel room door.
The other is that the Internet, and the blogosphere in particular, have provided fact checking that exposes the crap that passes for editorial content in many major dailies and so people are simply going elsewhere for hard news.

Posted by: zak822 | Oct 31, 2006 10:53:48 AM


The only time I buy the Washington Post is when I am in it and I missed picking up the last issue that I was in :(

I do read it online on occasion too, but not a habit or anything.

Posted by: Guy Montag | Oct 31, 2006 3:45:03 PM

I am really shocked my Dallas Morning News did not make that list.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Oct 31, 2006 3:55:45 PM

Not exactly a rousing sign of success when the NY Post claims a gain in readership by its keen business-saavy method of Rupert Murdoch wasting $250 million to give it away for free. I'm sure Pepsi would start outselling Coke if they just starting charging only a nickel for a can; something tells me their investors wouldn't call it a rousing success when the annual sales figures came in.

Posted by: August J. Pollak | Nov 1, 2006 3:43:57 PM

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