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When 18 of the top 20 newspapers report circulation losses, it seems time to assess alternate sources of trouble. It can't just be the Internet or blogs, no matter how erudite. For example, why did the San Francisco Chronicle decline so steeply, by over 16.5%? Bad management? Lousy writers? Boring articles? That seems to be part of it. As one of Ringelmatz's colleagues pointed out some months ago: "There's just nothing worth reading in it." And the price can't be keeping readers away; numerous major dailies still cost only 25 cents every day (except Sunday). The Sunday New York Post is down over 6%; it can't just be Murdoch Jr.'s mismanagement or more readers examining the Post online, can it? True confession: Ringelmatz refuses to pay for the Post for ideological reasons (Murdoch has enough money and prints too much gratuitous right-wing slobbering) but does read it online.
But let's keep in mind: these figures indicate only how many people are buying the newspaper, not how many are reading the paper. What if you leave a copy at Starbucks and six other people read it? What about all those online readers who register with fake names? In short, there is no real way to determine just how many people or exactly who actually reads the newspaper. And don't believe the audited circulation of free newspapers; you can look all over the place and see free papers dumped here and there.
But the bigger issue here--the one that has every editorial department quite nervous--is how do the dailies stop losing so much advertising money to Google?
circulation, editorial, google, murdoch, new york post, newspaper
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Posted on 11/7/2005
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