Sun's daily circulation falls 5.9% over six months

October 28, 2008|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

The Baltimore Sun's daily circulation fell 5.9 percent during the six months that ended Sept. 30, reflecting a trend among the nation's major metropolitan newspapers, even as the paper's Web site saw substantial gains in its readership.

Daily print circulation in the industry declined an average 4.6 percent, with Sunday circulation down 4.8 percent, the Audit Bureau of Circulations said. All of the nation's top 25 newspapers reported average daily circulation drops, except for USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. Newspaper circulation has been hurt recently by increased online competition.

The Sun's daily circulation fell to 218,923, while Sunday circulation decreased 3.9 percent, to 350,640.

The industrywide decreases were steeper than averages in the 2 percent and 3 percent range of the past few years and reflect continuing declines in regular readership and seven-day subscriptions, said Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst at the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit continuing education school for journalists.

The Baltimore Sun Media Group, which publishes The Baltimore Sun and 30 community newspapers and magazines, attributed the latest slide in circulation to price increases outside the newspaper's primary market and declines in single daily copy sales. But the Sun Media Group, owned by Chicago-based Tribune Co., said demand has grown for b, the free daily for young adults launched in April. Plans call for increasing the daily distribution of b from 75,000 copies to 100,000 copies next year.

ABC said nearly half of all adults - about 1 million - living in the Baltimore market read The Baltimore Sun during a one-week period. The newspaper and its Web site reach 53 percent of the market, or 1.2 million adults, the survey showed.

For September, the newspaper reported that baltimoresun.com saw a 30 percent increase in page views over the prior year and a 44 percent increase in unique visitors for the month.

The Baltimore Sun launched a redesign at the end of August, and recently announced a partnership with WJZ that puts the television station's video content on Sun Media Group Web sites.

"We are building a broad portfolio of products to meet the needs of various audience segments," Tim Ryan, BSMG publisher, president and chief executive, said yesterday in a statement.

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