blogHOUSTON.net forum

For discussion of items posted to blogHOUSTON.net

You are not logged in.

#1 2005-11-07 13:03:49

Anne
Moderator
Registered: 2004-09-08
Posts: 3,833

Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

The latest newspaper circulation numbers have been reported by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, and the Chronicle has suffered another decline in readership:

Average weekday circulation of America's 20 biggest newspapers for the six-month period ended Sept. 30, as reported Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. [The percentage changes are from the comparable year-ago period.]

1. USA Today, 2,296,335, down 0.59 percent

2. The Wall Street Journal, 2,083,660, down 1.10 percent

3. The New York Times, 1,126,190, up 0.46 percent

4. Los Angeles Times, 843,432, down 3.79 percent

5. New York Daily News, 688,584, down 3.70 percent

6. The Washington Post, 678,779, down 4.09 percent

7. New York Post, 662,681, down 1.74 percent

8. Chicago Tribune, 586,122, down 2.47 percent

9. Houston Chronicle, 521,419, down 6.01 percent

10. The Boston Globe, 414,225, down 8.25 percent

May's circulation numbers had the Chronicle's decline at 3.9 percent.  Clearly, the current business model isn't working at 801 Texas Ave.

UPDATE: The Chron is running an AP story about the nationwide circulation woes. Most head-scratching paragraph:

Four newspapers whose circulation was affected by Hurricane Katrina did not file statements with the Audit Bureau: The Times-Picayune of New Orleans; the American Press in Lake Charles, La.; The Beaumont Enterprise in Texas; and The Daily Leader in Brookhaven, Miss.

Since I don't recall Katrina impacting Beaumont, TX, I am assuming the story meant Hurricane Rita, in the case of the Beaumont Enterprise.

UPDATE AGAIN: The Chronicle did that poof-thing again. The link in the above update now goes to an entirely different Chronicle-credited story/apologia:

The Chronicle's decline was primarily due to a more conservative auditing posture by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, said Jack Sweeney, president and publisher of the Chronicle.

"We used to be able to collect and show proof of payment to ABC on overdue accounts" said Sweeney. "Now if a subscriber is one day late with a payment over 90 days, the computer system automatically eliminates the address from the paid circulation averages."

Soaring fuel costs have also altered circulation strategies, said Sweeney. "We've pulled our distribution in closer to our core market by eliminating San Antonio, Dallas, far South Texas and parts of Louisiana."

The Chronicle's 2005 circulation averages also suffered the effects of Hurricane Rita with evacuations and gas shortages curtailing rack and store sales over several days in parts of East Texas.

KEVIN WHITED ADDS: That bolded paragraph is some kind of spinning by Sweeney! One former distributor tells me there was always pressure from the Chronicle brass to throw newspapers even when a subscriber stopped paying. Now we know why -- they hoped to count those "subscribers" as paid circulation if they could ever entice them into coming back. The current practice is more honest.

That business about pulling circulation from Dallas because of fuel costs is funny. Dallas has a real newspaper, not to mention the Star-Telegram. Why in the world would anybody in that metro area read the Chronicle?



Link to post: http://www.bloghouston.net/item/2081

Offline

#2 2005-11-07 13:50:31

Royko
Member
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 1,752

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

Has anyone noticed that the Houston Chronicle's circulation has declined at about the same rate as METRO's bus ridership after METRORail service was introduced?

I wonder if there is any statistical correlation of significance.  If so, I suggest the editors lambast METRORail and praise the bus.  Once ridership returns, so might readership of the Liberal-biased rag.


"I'll keep my God, my liberty, my guns,
and my meager earnings; whereas,
you can keep "THE CHANGE!"

Offline

#3 2005-11-07 14:01:24

Laurence Simon
Is Full Of Crap
From: Houston, TX
Registered: 2004-10-17
Posts: 1,564
Website

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

All those damned drunk illiterates from New Orleans, I tells ya!

Offline

#4 2005-11-07 15:23:24

oldvet
Member
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 17

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

When the "Houston Comical" decides to print the truth, support their president (whom ever that might be), encourage the party of obstruction to get to work, and remind the readers we are still at war then their readership just might improve. Since news is just about instantaneous these days, it takes very little to put 2 plus 2 together and analyze the big picture. The "Houston Comical" is still so controlled and orchestrated with their pre determined outcomes that they walk around blind, deaf and dumb. Also, if they could only proof their own product this would help considerably.

OLDVET

Offline

#5 2005-11-07 21:59:23

Anne
Moderator
Registered: 2004-09-08
Posts: 3,833

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

Hugh Hewitt read a great quote from Yahoo's CEO:  "The consumer is now the programmer and all those who used to make our decisions are no longer in our lives."

There ya go!  We don't have to rely on newspapers for our news.  We don't have to rely on a few editors to determine what news should read.  Through the wonder of the internet, we can get as much or as little news as we want.

What liberation!

Offline

#6 2005-11-07 23:06:15

satyr
Member
Registered: 2005-05-19
Posts: 125

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

oldvet wrote:

When the "Houston Comical" decides to print the truth, support their president (whom ever that might be), encourage the party of obstruction to get to work, and remind the readers we are still at war then their readership just might improve. Since news is just about instantaneous these days, it takes very little to put 2 plus 2 together and analyze the big picture. The "Houston Comical" is still so controlled and orchestrated with their pre determined outcomes that they walk around blind, deaf and dumb. Also, if they could only proof their own product this would help considerably.

OLDVET

What does supporting a president have to do with NEWS? If they supported a president they'd just be a propaganda rag, and we really don't need that.

Encourage the party of obstruction to get to work? You mean like the White House finally opening records and stop hiding every thing they do? or were you not referring to that kind of obstruction?

And reminding us we are at war.. well gee every time they report about U.S. Soldiers deaths they are reminding us of Bush's little war. 

I think what you are upset about is that they don't report only the way you want to them to. You seem to be much more in favor of a propaganda machine and anything that doesn't report it the way you like is "liberal media"

Ever think that maybe circulation is down because people are reading it online and have no need for a hard copy?

Offline

#7 2005-11-07 23:22:10

Kevin
Administrator
From: Tanglewilde
Registered: 2004-09-08
Posts: 6,929

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

The 16.4% decline in circ at Hearst's San Fran paper is pretty interesting.

That newspaper is getting pounded on local news by Philip Anschutz's little rag out there.

We can only speculate as to the causes of the declines at various newspapers, but it seems like competition may be partly responsible in San Fran.

Offline

#8 2005-11-07 23:34:01

Anne
Moderator
Registered: 2004-09-08
Posts: 3,833

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

satyr wrote:

Ever think that maybe circulation is down because people are reading it online and have no need for a hard copy?

Ummmm, no.

Circulation is down because the Chronicle does not put out a product that Houston-area residents want to read.

That's pretty much the gist of it.

Offline

#9 2005-11-08 02:46:09

satyr
Member
Registered: 2005-05-19
Posts: 125

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

Anne wrote:
satyr wrote:

Ever think that maybe circulation is down because people are reading it online and have no need for a hard copy?

Ummmm, no.

Circulation is down because the Chronicle does not put out a product that Houston-area residents want to read.

That's pretty much the gist of it.

You speak with authority on that? I mean you've done the polls? You know why I don't get the hardcopy?
Wouldn't it be more accurate if you said you feel that circulation is down because you don't think people want to read it?
I mean unless you have some information the rest of us aren't privy to or you are omnipotent and all knowing about what motivates a few million Houston area folk, a statement like that just says you are trying to pull off opinions as facts.

For all you know, it could be that 6% don't have the income to spare on the paper. Or suddenly a conservation aware percentage of people are trying to save trees by reading it online. Unlikely yeah but YOU don't know do you?

Offline

#10 2005-11-08 07:59:35

Anne
Moderator
Registered: 2004-09-08
Posts: 3,833

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

satyr wrote:

You speak with authority on that? I mean you've done the polls?

For all you know, it could be that 6% don't have the income to spare on the paper. Or suddenly a conservation aware percentage of people are trying to save trees by reading it online.

Satyr, everything I write here is my opinion.  That's kind of how the blog thing works. I don't claim to be an "unbiased" professional media person.

I'm sorry if my statement upsets you, but I have read enough stories on the decline of newspapers to know that a large part of newspapers' problems stem from not writing compelling content for many people.  If you prefer not to believe that, no sweat.  I'm certainly not going to lose any sleep over it.

As far as people not being able to afford the paper...please.  The Chron will throw one on a person's lawn for months after the person has cancelled.  And online readers?  Yes, there are some, but it does NOT account for the huge decline in newspaper readership.  And the majority of online content is pulled from the dead tree newspaper, blogs notwithstanding, which brings up back to the problem of compelling content.

Offline

#11 2005-11-08 08:40:16

Kevin
Administrator
From: Tanglewilde
Registered: 2004-09-08
Posts: 6,929

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

satyr wrote:

You speak with authority on that? I mean you've done the polls?

We'll get right on that multiple regression analysis and factor analysis!

Err, no, on second thought, we won't. smile

Wouldn't it be more accurate if you said you feel that circulation is down because you don't think people want to read it?

I don't know about more accurate, but it sure would be clunky! smile

For all you know, it could be that 6% don't have the income to spare on the paper. Or suddenly a conservation aware percentage of people are trying to save trees by reading it online. Unlikely yeah but YOU don't know do you?

Oh goodness. Please don't make us try to prove we exist. College philosophy 101 was too long ago. smile

Look, there's plenty of anecdotal evidence in the Houston area that one segment of the population (conservatives) finds the content of the Houston Chronicle objectionable, whether it's the juvenile lefty editorial page that frequently goes after conservative pols and issues or nasty partisans like Hines, Robison, and Casey (unbalanced by any staff conservatives), or movie reviewers that give Gibson's Passion an F (for starters). Does that explain a 6% decline in one period, all by itself? No, probably not. But a newspaper that continually thumbs its nose at a large segment of the population and attacks their values ought not be surprised when they find they can do without a paid sub -- especially when there are so many online news source available.

It's a strange business model, since the newspaper tries to be so many things to so many people otherwise. You'd think they'd want the subs of aging conservatives (and that advertisers would like that demographic, since they generally hope for a return on their investment in advertising).

Beyond that, we do know that younger people aren't that interested in paid subs to the print newspaper, so some of the decline might be explained by that.

Offline

#12 2005-11-08 10:47:18

Anne
Moderator
Registered: 2004-09-08
Posts: 3,833

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

The Chron's online headline is amusing:  "Chronicle retains ranking"  along with this paragraph:

The Chronicle remained the seventh-largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the nation and the eighth-largest on Sundays.

Translation:  Good news!  Since most major papers have declining circ numbers, we are still in the top 10!

I'm not sure that's something to brag about.  smile

Offline

#13 2005-11-08 11:27:14

Laurence Simon
Is Full Of Crap
From: Houston, TX
Registered: 2004-10-17
Posts: 1,564
Website

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

Anne wrote:

The Chron's online headline is amusing:  "Chronicle retains ranking"  along with this paragraph:

The Chronicle remained the seventh-largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the nation and the eighth-largest on Sundays.

Translation:  Good news!  Since most major papers have declining circ numbers, we are still in the top 10!

I'm not sure that's something to brag about.  smile

I'm sure that First Class passengers on the Titanic retained their First Class status as the ship went down.

Offline

#14 2005-11-08 11:40:39

satyr
Member
Registered: 2005-05-19
Posts: 125

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

Lucky for us that conservatives don't read all that much.. (which could explain why they are conservatives) to begin with. Come to think of it the only thing rarer than a conservative who reads is one who writes.. so it's no wonder the chronicle doesn't have many if any smile
(blogs don't count as "reading" since most of them seem to exist for like minded people to pat each other on the back for having the same opinion as the other readers of that blog) smile

As for giving Gibson's snuff film an F.. well let's face it, if it wasn't for the fact it was a religious flick, the conservatives would have ranted against it as gruesome over the top violence. They would have compared it to Grand Theft Auto as warping the minds of american youths.
If Gibson had billed it as what it was, the critics may have given it a C as horror flick. Though it'd still probably be lucky if kept it's Unrated rating instead of getting an X. 

Honestly though I don't like the chron all that much. But I've never considered it be liberal media. I just think that conservatives hate anything that challenges their delicate perch and the news tends to do that too much, especially since so much news is being caused by "conservatives".
Or should the chronicle only report on blue collar crimes which is usually blamed on liberals for some reason.

Offline

#15 2005-11-08 14:14:30

KRamsauer
Member
Registered: 2005-07-18
Posts: 23

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

I knew this was coming when I got a knock on my apartment door one day.  Apparently the apartment complex had "bought" a subscription for me and I only had to prepay a dollar a week "tip" to the delivery people.  What it really was?  A desperate attempt to increase circulation and the "tip" was my payment to make sure I was a paying customer and thus counted

Offline

#16 2005-11-08 14:17:32

Kevin
Administrator
From: Tanglewilde
Registered: 2004-09-08
Posts: 6,929

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

satyr wrote:

But I've never considered it be liberal media.

There's not one staff editorialist who's anything but left of center. Surely the newspaper could find a conservative for its editorial board if it really tried. I know it's hard to believe that there's any of us who have all of our teeth and live outside of Jasper (or *gasp* even have PhDs!), but really, we exist. smile Heck, a libertarian might even be fun!

The newspaper is welcome to run a liberal editorial page if it wants, but it really can't legitimately claim it's neither liberal nor conservative (as it does claim).

If the Chronicle wants to stick it to conservatives -- something you seem to approve of -- that's fine. But they shouldn't be surprised if those folks get their news elsewhere. I suspect if Philip Anschutz ever ponied up and dropped a Houston Examiner on the scene, you'd see larger declines in Chron readership and local journalism would improve quite a bit.

Ah well. Houston isn't much of a literary town anyway, but a guy can have his wish list can't he?

Offline

#17 2005-11-08 22:34:48

Anne
Moderator
Registered: 2004-09-08
Posts: 3,833

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

satyr wrote:

Lucky for us that conservatives don't read all that much.. (which could explain why they are conservatives) to begin with. Come to think of it the only thing rarer than a conservative who reads is one who writes.. so it's no wonder the chronicle doesn't have many if any smile.

If those are the thoughts that keep you warm at night, satyr, then more power to you. 

Some of us don't mind being misunderestimated.  smile

Offline

#18 2005-11-09 01:29:00

fiorucci
Member
Registered: 2005-11-09
Posts: 2

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

This 'steep' decline is just 'an acceleration of a trend', according to Business Week mag. I mean, no big surprise that dailies are going the way of the buggywhip, especially poorly done dailies like the Chron. The surprise is that it's happening so fast.

Why's it happening?

Maybe the dailies do 'cater to readers who move their lips while they read', as Mike Lacey said during a recent NPR interview, discussing why weeklies like Houston Press, are where the younger, more educated readers are turning.

Maybe it's lack of originality, just plain copying: the Chron recently copied PaperCity, and before that the Houston Press' "Best of Houston" with its "Ultimate Houston". They've got Hearst$$$, but zero new ideas, and good journalism to them apparently isn't the answer.

Maybe they will turn to an online product....(as stodgy and bland as their printed page). Maybe an UTNE Reader format, tapping into to decent national stories....wouldn't be a big jump, as many stories are already reprints from the wire anyway.

Good luck, Chron.....I feel like starting a 'booster for the boosters' group!

Offline

#19 2005-11-09 10:21:39

rorschach
Member
From: Spring, Texas
Registered: 2005-01-05
Posts: 3,926
Website

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

Conservatives don't read much huh? Tell that to my wife who is contantly nagging me about all my books filling every square inch of shelf space in the house! She'll laugh in your face. I'm actually pretty compulsive when it comes to reading. If I don't have a book, or a magazine or a newspaper or SOMETHING at hand to read every second of my free time I'm actually kind of stressed. I even read while watching TV (Usually the history channel or Discovery channel...) which drives my wife to complete distraction. she cannot believe I'm actually able to multitask reading and watching TV at the same time.

I actually resent your blanket stereotypical misrepresentation that conservatives are not capable of intellectual thought or literary efforts.


http://redinktexas.blogspot.com/
"If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”
Samuel Adams

Offline

#20 2005-11-09 10:33:51

Kevin
Administrator
From: Tanglewilde
Registered: 2004-09-08
Posts: 6,929

Re: Chronicle sees steep 6% drop in circulation

Lileks has an interesting article in the Austin American Statesman today.

Here's an interesting excerpt:

A layout artist using a fancy program to arrange wire copy on a page is still doing a Gutenberg, so to speak. Meanwhile, the technologically savvy are plucking their own information out of the ether and sorting it to fit their twitchy modern lives. NBC provides podcasts of its popular news programs, and you can automate the download. Grab the iPod on the way out the door, connect the FM transmitter in the car, and voila: customized radio en route to work. How can newspapers compete without giving every subscriber a personal servant who reads the paper aloud from the back seat?

But it's not a fatal spiral. Not if newspapers go local. Unfortunately, most papers still see themselves as the Trusted Guardians of the Global Yesterday, serving up a cold meal of worldwide news to people who've already read the updates on the Web. This is a mistake. Leave the big picture to The New York Times and the Washington Post and the networks. Get small. Only newspapers have the resources to cover their hometowns. Yes, newspaper readers want to know about the world. But they also want crime and restaurant reviews and cute spelling bee winners and dog photos and anti-pothole crusades.

Also, stop chasing the younger market. They do not care what your reviewer thinks of "Doom the Movie." They played the game AND blew through the expansion pack AND downloaded a bootleg of the film on BitTorrent. Trying to court this demographic makes newspapers look like Grandpa doing the Funky Chicken, and it hurts.

The Chronicle has tried to boost its local coverage, but it could be much much better. And editorials on local matters would surely benefit from a more balanced editorial board.

As for the editorial page -- adding Lileks and Steyn would sure give the thing a boost until a conservative staff editorialist could be secured.

Or, the bleeding can continue.

Offline

Board footer

Powered by FluxBB