Monday, April 28, 2008

That Big Sucking Sound Is Coming From The Publisher's Office

More Ugliness Courtesy of the ABC's FAS-FAX Totals

Let's get the good news out of the way for those of you who prefer to operate in glass-is-half-full mode.
The latest numbers from the Audit Bureau of Circulations are out for the last six months and, yes, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal registered microscopic gains averaging .31 percent. Indeed, not too shabby nowadays. Even The Sun in Baltimore upped its total by 200 copies for a 0.1 percent increase.
And Editor & Publisher does make note of other winners, including The Cincinnati Enquirer, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and shock of shocks, the eviscerated-but-still-breathing San Jose Mercury-News.
Sadly, they are anomalies. The real story is the same story. To wit: The Los Angeles Times, off another 5.13 percent, with daily circulation down to just 774,000. The New York tabloids continue to shed numbers -- the Post more so than the Daily News -- while their suburban counterparts, Newsday is off 4.6 percent and The Star-Ledger is down 7.3 percent.
The numbers for the Dallas Morning News and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution look worse than they are (down 10.6 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively), as both outlets made a concerted effort to rein in circulation outside their core metro areas. Nonetheless, they are among 23 of the top 25 papers that registered declines.
These numbers will no doubt launch another furious search for answers for how to stanch the bleeding, or at least slow it to a trickle.
Unfortunately, the only answer most publishers have come up with is to reduce staff and slash away at what's inside the papers. The irony that in so doing, you're giving people even less of a reason to read has long been consigned to the Dumpster.
The idea of adding reporters, reimagining sections and creating a product that's indispensable and provides information that can't be obtained anywhere else, has apparently been deemed too radical.
They shoot newspapers, don't they?

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