Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Newspaper Industry Resorts to the New Math

The latest newspaper circulation figures were released yesterday. And with newspaper circulation continuing to decline with each reporting period, the industry has taken a bold step to turn the tide of loss of readership. They've changed the rules on how they count the readers.

According to an industry observer who is quoted on the Poynter Institute website, "The rules will probably be viewed, rightly, as liberalizing what counts as circulation."

For instance, digital editions are now counted (provided the reader pays something for it) raising the possibility that a single subscriber could be counted multiple times. For example, subscribing to a digital edition on their laptop, tablet and smart phone.

Sounds like if Edhat used these new rules they'd probably have a million readers.

Make no mistake, it's hard to compete with a digital edition. They look better, have more bells and whistles and are lighter and thinner than their dead-tree counterparts.

In fact, I've gotten so spoiled by digital editions of newspapers, I rarely seek out the physical newspaper.

So, with the new math in mind, here are the latest circulation figures for the six-month period that ended March 31 for newspapers in our region as reported by the Pacific Coast Business Times.

Ventura County Star: total average circulation at 64,486 Monday through Friday, 92,768 on Sundays and 69,164 on Saturdays.

San Luis Obispo Tribune: 34,718, M-F; 39,448, Sun; and 36,259, Sat.

Santa Barbara News-Press: 25,973; 24,575; 24,071.

Santa Maria Times: 16,528; 19,206; 12,942.

Lompoc Record: 3,874; 3,912; 3,757.

Both the Pacific Coast Business Times and Poynter Institute articles caution that the new rule changes mean the results at a given paper cannot be intelligibly compared to those of a year ago. But if you want to go ahead and make that comparison anyway, here is my article on circulation figures from last year.

And yes, there do appear to some declines among those numbers I quoted above.
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Tonight, Wednesday, May 4, I will be a guest on Ernie Salomon live which airs at 7pm on Channel 17. The other guest will be local writer Cheri Rae. If you're not watching the Lakers play, tune in and call us up.
© 2011 by Craig Smith and