Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Newspaper Circulations Nationally and Locally Trending Downward

Newspapers nationwide are losing readers. In general, the trend in southwest Missouri appears to be the same – although some weeklies have shown growth. You can read about the national trend here. Basically, for all newspapers reporting daily circulation, the Newspaper Association of America said that daily circulation fell 2.1 percent while Sunday circulation fell 3.1 percent this year.

In Springfield, the News-Leader reported average paid circulation of 63,061 (daily) and 91,513 (Sunday) in April 2003. Compare that to the numbers reported in September 2006: daily paid circulation of 58,238, and Sunday circulation of 84,147.

How are other newspapers in the region doing? To answer that question I pulled out my 2002 and 2007 copies of the Missouri Press Association newspaper directory. Each of the newspapers in that directory self-report circulation numbers each year. These are not necessarily the same as the numbers that appear in circulation audits (as reported above with the News-Leader). Do you see a trend here among these 16 randomly selected newspapers in southwest Missouri:


Joplin Globe – 2002 paid 34,598 and Globe Sunday paid 43,000; in 2006, paid 30,242 and Sunday 23,684
Carthage Press – 2002 paid 4,278; in 2006, paid 3,854
Monett Times - 2002 paid 4,066; in 2006, paid 3870
Branson Daily News - 2002 paid 11,170; in 2006, paid 9813


Ash Grove Commonwealth - 2002 paid 1,498; in 2006, paid 1,000
Aurora Advertiser - 2002 paid 3,489; in 2006, paid 2904
Bolivar Herald-Free Press - 2002 paid 7,134 in 2006, paid 7,050.
Crane Chronicle/Stone County Republican - 2002 paid 2,446 in 2006, paid 2,316
Greenfield Vedette - 2002 paid 2,656 in 2006, paid 1,358
Lamar Democrat - 2002 paid 3,312; in 2006, paid 3,900
Marshfield Mail - 2002 paid 5,012; in 2006, paid 5,800
Mt. Vernon Lawrence County Record - 2002 paid 3,622; in 2006, paid 3,900
Ozark Christian County Headliner-News - 2002 paid 3,620; in 2006, paid 5,750
Republic Monitor - 2002 paid 3,630; in 2006, paid 3,050
Seneca News-Dispatch – 2002 paid 1,786; in 2006, paid 1,868
Stockton Cedar County Republican - 2002 paid 2,638; in 2006, paid 1,954

A few of these weeklies have shown growth. What makes the newspapers in Lamar, Marshfield, Mt. Vernon, Seneca and Ozark different from those that had a slide downward in circulation? The growth of those newspapers could be because of the product itself or the growing communities those publications call home. Or, readers may actually prefer community journalism. I’m sure there are other possibilities too as well as success stories specific to each individual market.

The bigger question to me is what impact is this change going to have on our democracy? Join in the discussion of this topic here.


Blogger Randy said...

If you would not mind checking, what would the figures be for the Neosho Daily News during those times. Thanks.

12:58 AM, May 03, 2007  

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