It was a good six months to be The Wall Street Journal. It was a bad six months to be just about anyone else.
On Monday, the Audit Bureau of Circulations released its official figures for the half-year ending Sept. 30, and the picture they paint is no less grim for being thoroughly foreseeable. Average daily circulation for the 379 papers reporting to ABC was down 10.6 percent, a marked acceleration of the downward trend from recent reports. The story at 562 Sunday papers was only slightly better: a 7.5 percent decline.
The Wall Street Journal was the only one of the 25 largest dailies to show an increase in circulation; its average rose 0.6 percent to 2.02 million, partly on the strength of strong sales of its electronic edition, which count towards overall circulation. As expected, the Journal overtook USA Today as the largest daily newspaper, with the Gannett-owned paper's circulation tumbling 17.1 percent to 1.9 million, owing largely to a recession-related downturn in hotel stays. (USA Today derives a high proportion of its sales from copies offered to hotel guests.)
Among other major dailies, The New York Times and The Washington Post both fared relatively well, posting declines of 7.3 and 6.4 percent, respectively. The New York Daily News and New York Post both suffered double-digit drops -- 14 percent for the News, and 18.8 percent for the Post. And the ailing San Francisco Chronicle took the biggest hit of the top 25 papers, nose-diving 25.8 percent to 251,782 copies.
Here's another indication of how rough things are. The ABC always compiles a list of the top-10 leading circulation gainers. Of the 10, four made the list by notching gains of less than 1 percent.
Newspaper circulation losses accelerate -- except at The Wall Street Journal