ABC’s New Math Excites Publishers

Extra! Circulation numbers bump up for some newspapers. But wait, there’s a twist in the plot.The start of November means there’s always a fresh dump of circulation figures produced by the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC). Last week The Oregonian, for example, claimed 1.6 percent growth over a year ago for the April-to-September time period.

The Portland daily was ranked 21st in the nation's top 25 newspapers, right behind the Seattle Times in 20th place.

But wait. There is a twist. The growth for The O and other major dailies is because paid online subscriptions may be counted along with the latest count for print circulation. Online page views don’t count, but paid e-subscriptions — however that is defined — do count as part of the total number.

The changes in accreditation went into effect last year. The agency warns against putting too much stock in comparing this year’s to last year’s figures as a result of the change. Still media trend watchers are taking note.

“Some of the nation’s largest newspapers are recording gains in digital circulation as print circulation continues to weaken, a trend that is helping to ease what has become a relentless overall decline in recent years,” reports Jeremy W. Peters in the New York Times’ Media Decoder blog.

“The numbers are for the most part still relatively small, but they do show a growing willingness by consumers to pay for digital newspaper editions,” Peters says. “Digital circulation for The New York Times, which put in place a paid online model in the spring, more than tripled to 380,000.”

For The Oregonian, the average daily circulation increased to 242,784 for the six months that ended Sept. 30. That's up 3,713 copies or 1.6 percent, from the same period a year earlier. Sunday circulation during the same period averaged 300,922 copies, up 8,122 copies or 2.8 percent from the year before. Again, the numbers reflect print and electronic copies.

The top 10 newspapers by are: 

  1. The Wall Street Journal — 2,096,169 weekday; no Sunday edition.
  2. USA Today — 1,784,242 weekday; no Sunday edition.
  3. The New York Times — 1,150,589 weekday; 1,645,152 Sunday.
  4. Daily News of New York — 605,677 weekday (includes 4,580 branded editions); 667,638 Sunday (includes 746 branded editions).
  5. Los Angeles Times — 572,998 weekday; 905,920 Sunday.
  6. San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News — 527,568 weekday (includes 343,550 branded editions); 602,566 Sunday (includes 383,314 branded editions).
  7. New York Post — 512,067 weekday; 379,673 Sunday.
  8. The Washington Post — 507,465 weekday; 846,019 Sunday (includes 119,029 branded editions).
  9. Chicago Tribune — 425,370 weekday; 781,128 Sunday.
  10. The Dallas Morning News — 409,642 weekday (includes 154,029 branded editions); 374,653 Sunday (includes 12,519 branded editions).

See Top 25 list: Audit Bureau of Circulations.