Thursday, May 3, 2007

Commercial Appeal Circulation Suffers “Huge Drop”

Posted By on Thu, May 3, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Daily newspaper circulation is declining at a steady rate in the U.S., and there seems to be no stopping the trend. An Associated Press story in Tuesday's Commercial Appeal reported that in the six-month period from October 2006 through March 2007, average weekday circulation for the nation’s top 25 papers was down 2.1 percent from the same period in 2006. Sunday circulation for these papers is down 3.1 percent.

The Commercial Appeal did not report on its own circulation numbers. Which led us to ask: How do the CA's numbers stack up compared to the nation’s top 25?

Not very well, according to the latest figures.

The Commercial Appeal's most recent publisher's statement, obtained from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, reported an average weekday circulation for the 6-month period ending in March 2007 of 146,252 copies, down 9.7 percent from 161,956 copies for the same period in 2005-06.

The Sunday edition fared even worse, showing a 14.9 percent drop, from an average of 216,705 copies in March 2006 to 184,418 copies in March 2007.

"I really don’t know what's going on in Memphis," said Jennifer Saba, an associate editor at the industry journal Editor & Publisher. "It looks like they’re bleeding heavily."

"This is a huge drop," Saba said. "To me, this says people aren't reading the paper."

Saba pointed out that not only are the CA's circulation numbers down, the newspaper's discounted circulation is up. The ABC breaks newspaper circulation into three categories: Paid circulation includes all sales where the customer pays at least 50 percent of the cover price; discounted circulation includes customers who pay less than 50 percent; and then there is the category of "other paid," which includes third-party distribution and other deeply discounted types of distribution.

During the period between October 2005 and March 2006 the CA's average discounted circulation was pegged at 95 copies. During the same period ending March 31, 2007, that number rose, Saba noted, to 8,846 copies.

Joseph Pepe, publisher of The Commercial Appeal, could not be reached for comment.

— Chris Davis

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