US Daily Newspapers Face Sales Gloom

09 November 2005

Stateside newspaper sales are continuing to decline, according to the latest sales figures issued by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

These reveal that the aggregated weekday circulations of 789 newspapers with audited data fell year-on-year by 2.6%, from 45.3 million to 45.1m. The fall follows a 1.9% slide during the previous reporting period ended March 30.

The nation's top-selling newspaper remains USA Today, but its circulation is down 2.8% on the 2004 figure.

The only one of the top 10 dailies to report an increase in sales (albeit just 0.5%) is the New York Times.

The average daily circulation for the Washington Post slipped 4.1%, while the Los Angeles Times dropped 3.8% compared with the year-earlier period. The figures for the latter follow a 6.5% decline for the last six-month reporting period.

The slump in sales comes as readers turn increasingly to electronic media including TV, radio and, most significantly, online sources.

John Murray, vp for circulation and marketing at the Newspaper Association of America, says many readers have migrated to newspaper web sites.

According to NAA numbers, more than 47 million people visited newspaper sites in September - almost one-third of all US internet users.

Adds Murray: "The reach of the paper is up, so that's the good news. The bad news is that we don't know how to monetize that."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online and New York Times; additional content by WARC staff