AJC circ plummets
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s weekday circulation dropped by a whopping 19.3 percent, the paper reported Saturday.
The un-bylined article, which doesn’t cite its source, apparently is based on a yet-to-be-released Audit Bureau of Circulation report for the six months ending March 31. It says Monday-Saturday circulation was down 19.3 percent from the same six-month period a year earlier, to 264,053, while Sunday circulation was 462,011, or down 7.1 percent.
Like other recent reports in the AJC about declining circulation, this one quotes an AJC exec (this time it’s Bob Eickhoff, a VP of operations) to explain away the nosedive: The paper made a strategic decision to “boost efficiency” early last year by pulling distribution out of 25 counties. It also increased the price for a single copy of the newspaper. Besides, the lousy economy and migration to the Internet is slamming all dailies.
The problem is that the AJC’s executives make the same kind of argument every time circulation reports show that the AJC is among the nation’s leader in circulation dropoffs. Even before the paper’s last round of operational changes, the Atlanta paper had seen one of the steepest drops in circulation among 1oo or so major dailies from 2005 to 2008, according to this fascinating New York Times graphic. And a fall 2008 Audit Bureau of Circulation report showed the paper with the steepest decline in the country among the largest dailies.
It’s clear that all the country’s newspapers are suffering. It’s just as clear, however, that the AJC is having a more difficult time than most in getting readers to pick up the paper.
The AJC brass also argues that online readership growth has more than made up for the reduced print readership:
Hyde Post, vice president, Internet, said ajc.com page views in March were a record 115.5 million, up 9 percent from a year earlier.
Views on mobile devices jumped 250 percent, to 3.5 million. “The next wave of growth appears to be mobile,” Post said.
That’s heartening — but just up to a point. The problem is that online readers often only scan one article or listing; they don’t flip through the whole paper. And, the AJC article fails to mention that online advertising offers so little revenue that the paper would need many multiples of its current readership simply to fund its operations — even when the print bill is factored out.
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