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News-Journal Circulation Drops Another 4.5%, Now Below 9,000 in Flagler Households

| November 4, 2011

They're probably unemployed now.

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 CirculationPercentage Decline or Increase
Bradenton Herald38,06434,14229,96228,612-4.5-24.8
Daytona Beach News-Journal83,27267,93763,90261,023-4.5-26.7
South Florida Sun Sentinel183,533153,563149,892147,860-1.4-19.4
Gainesville Sun39,39233,66832,10529,024-9.6-26.3
Jacksonville Times-Union127,661109,476108,926108,565-0.3-15.0
Lakeland Ledger54,03347,87244,87441,309-7.9-23.5
Florida Today, Melbourne67,97560,92660,16559,038-1.9-13.1
Miami Herald210,884162,260151,612160,505+5.9-23.9
Orlando Sentinel206,366181,090172,271171,418-.0.5-16.9
St. Augustine Record17,05616,03416,08616,701+3.8-2.0
St. Petersburg Times268,934240,147239,684240,024+0.1-10.7
Tampa Tribune187,691152,568145,045138,172-4.7-26.4
Sarasota Herald-Tribune84,29170,48166,35263,864-3.7-24.2
Palm Beach Post134,350114,336100,83095,620-5.2-28.8
Fort Myers News Press68,52260,32556,83454,761-3.6-20.0
Naples Daily News42,36942,00248,64945,146-7.2+6.6
Ocala Star-Banner45,18640,40331,71829,625-6.6-34.4
Tallahassee Democrat47,30239,13036,67032,673-10.9-30.9
Charlotte Sun37,24135,72435,44534,569-2.5-7.2
Treasure Coast News (Stuart)89,44876,86366,85066,989+0.2-25.1
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10 Responses for “News-Journal Circulation Drops Another 4.5%, Now Below 9,000 in Flagler Households”

  1. Figarow says:

    They should have kept their comment section up and going.

  2. Out of curiosity says:

    I used to be a subscriber, but it’s a sad commentary on their reporting when the Orlando Sentinel has better reporting on Volusia county events than the Journal.

  3. elaygee says:

    Since they went facist, i dropped it like a rock

  4. dealingwithidiots1 says:

    newspapersare no longer relevent

  5. bunnell boy says:

    If they still had out houses this paper would not have been suitable for use.

  6. Dudley Doright says:

    See my tears….NOT!

  7. Doug Chozianin says:

    I stopped my News-Journal subscription when my parakeet died.

    Seriously, taxpaying adults are getting tired of PAYING to read liberal trash (and… some issues are only 8 pages!!!). Moreover, the next generation of “readers” can’t read (anything beyond 140 characters triggers ADHD-like symptoms).

    Is it any wonder why Occupy-Wall-Streeters can’t find a job???

  8. Geezer Butler says:

    The News-Journal is hands down the worst newspaper I had the displeasure of reading. I did however, enjoy posting comments in the “backtalk” forum. I used to get a kick out of “Wild Bill’s” comments. I notice that a couple of those posters have moved here.

    We found a much better place to hang out!

  9. palmcoaster says:

    Welcome Geezer! I agree regarding our new hanging place.

  10. Ed Caroe says:

    FlaglerLive’s comparative data between News-Journal and Observer does NOT clarify whether or not the publisher (good guy, but anti-NJ since “let go”) sees advertiser value (and therefore includes) all those copies tossed in front of empty and snow-bird houses. WHAT SAY?

    I live on a “Court” that is better occupied than many in Palm Coast. Still 40% of the houses on Coolidge Ct are empty for either 12 or 6-months a year. FYI, I collect the non-delivered papers so bad guys won’t know which houses will be easier to rob. Usually, the extra copies are brought to the Sheriff’s sub-station. Even the bags are saved; I have three dogs.

    Observer is good, but it is too cozy with the City Mgr; what and how they cover stuff confirms that. I suffered thru the N-J when it was ultra liberal, so now its fair coverage keeps me as a subscriber. is interesting (and technologically amazing), but seems to just have a couple of dozen regular responders. They’re fun to read, but do those few convey a consensus of local opinions? How is “circulation” fairly logged to eliminate repeat-responders in a day?


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