Circulation continued to decline sharply in the past 12 months at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, which circulated almost 3,000 fewer weekday copies by the end of September compared with a year ago. The decline mirrors that at most of Florida’s newspapers, but not in this region, where other papers’ circulation has stabilized. In Flagler County, the News-Journal’s home-delivery circulation is now below 9,000, reaching just one-fifth of local households.
The 4.5 percent decline is at odds with News-Journal Publisher Michael Redding’s claim to readers last spring that the paper had added 3,000 subscribers since he took over ownership through Halifax Media the previous spring. Redding did not respond to several questions emailed him on Thursday. The News-Journal’s decline in the last 12 months is also the steepest in the region, and adds to a 26.7 percent decline since 2008.
The Orlando Sentinel and the Jacksonville Times-Union’s circulation declines all but stopped in the past year, with a 0.5 percent drop at the Sentinel and a 0.3 percent drop at the Times-Union. The St. Augustine Record actually added a few hundred readers, for a 3.8 percent weekday circulation gain in the past year, according to Audit Bureau of Circulation figures released this week. The only other papers that saw an increase in their weekday circulation, out of the state’s 20 major or mid-size dailies, are the Miami Herald (5.9 percent), the Treasure Coast news (0.2 percent) and the St. Petersburg Times, soon to be called the Tampa Bay Times (0.1 percent).
There is a caveat: the audit bureau is accounting for circulation differently now. The standard circulation figure in the past was paid circulation. That’s no longer the case. The new figures include “total average circulation,” which takes in virtual or “exact-replica” copies on the web, copies distributed to hotels and motels, to schools and universities, to advertisers, and so on. The new way of calculating circulation was designed in part to reflect the changing nature of the business, but also to help stem what had been precipitous declines in traditional circulation, and advertisers’ loss of faith in print.
At the Record, for example, print circulation has continued to decline considerably, but the paper’s inclusion of 2,710 web-edition subscriptions reverses the losses.
Those losses have continued at the News-Journal despite the new accounting gimmickry. Weekday print subscribers to the paper have actually declined to 52,376, from a few copies less than 54,000 a year ago, a 3 percent drop. The paper is also losing single-copy sales, which are down to 4,863. Its “digital-replica” edition has just 246 paid subscribers. Sunday circulation, while still falling, is not falling as fast.
For the News-Journal’s Flagler County circulation, the most recent figures are as of the end of March, when the newspaper had a paid, home-delivery and mail circulation of 8,839 on weekdays (10,964 on Sundays), which represented a household “penetration” (that’s the industry term, unfortunately) of 20 percent. When all other gimmicks are added, including single copy sales (many of which are from travelers), hotel copies and the like, weekday circulation rises to 10,297.
Palm Coast had a home-delivery weekday circulation of 7,307. Bunnell had just 367 households receiving the paper, and Flagler Beach, 1,099. Those numbers have most likely decreased, since they’re based on last winter and spring’s tallies, when snowbirds increase totals somewhat. In Comparison, the Palm Coast Observer, a free weekly dropped on resident’s driveways, reaches some 24,000 households on Thursdays. That doesn’t include rack copies the weekly distributes at key locations in the county.
The News-Journal’s Sunday circulation, while still falling, is holding its own a little better. It was 83,000 at the end of September, down just 500 copies from a year ago, though the figure is swelled by almost 2,000 hotel-distribution copies, freebies, and 16,000 single-copy sales. The newspaper’s subscription price is now $205 a year–$65 more than an annual subscription, with online access and two free weeks, to the Wall Street Journal.
Just six years ago, the News-Journal had a weekday average circulation of 108,300, and a Sunday circulation of 123,000. A subscription cost $169 a year at the time.
Statewide, the newspaper with the largest circulation remains the St. Petersburg Times, with 240,000 weekday copies. The Times is among the few papers (four in all) that saw circulation increase this past year. The Times’s weekday circulation increased by less than 500 copies, but its Sunday circulation jumped 6.6 percent. The Miami Herald has now fallen behind the Orlando Sentinel in weekday circulation, with 160,505 to the Sentinel’s 171,418. The Sun-Sentinel is in fourth place, followed by the Tampa Tribune. See the full chart below.
Florida Newspapers' Weekday Circulation, 2008-2011
|Weekday Circulation||Percentage Decline or Increase|
|Daytona Beach News-Journal||83,272||67,937||63,902||61,023||-4.5||-26.7|
|South Florida Sun Sentinel||183,533||153,563||149,892||147,860||-1.4||-19.4|
|Florida Today, Melbourne||67,975||60,926||60,165||59,038||-1.9||-13.1|
|St. Augustine Record||17,056||16,034||16,086||16,701||+3.8||-2.0|
|St. Petersburg Times||268,934||240,147||239,684||240,024||+0.1||-10.7|
|Palm Beach Post||134,350||114,336||100,830||95,620||-5.2||-28.8|
|Fort Myers News Press||68,522||60,325||56,834||54,761||-3.6||-20.0|
|Naples Daily News||42,369||42,002||48,649||45,146||-7.2||+6.6|
|Treasure Coast News (Stuart)||89,448||76,863||66,850||66,989||+0.2||-25.1|