If you take a look at the new list of the top 25 daily newspapers in the United States, you might notice something odd: the Boston Globe, a longtime fixture, has disappeared. In fact, the Globe’s weekday circulation has plunged so much that it now sells fewer papers than the Oregonian, the San Diego Union-Tribune and Newark’s Star-Ledger.
In a memo to Globe staff members that was obtained by Media Nation, publisher Chris Mayer says the latest figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations show the Globe’s weekday paid print circulation is now 232,432, down 23 percent from a year ago. On Sundays, a category in which the Globe is still a top-25 paper, circulation is 378,949, a decline of 19 percent.
Circulation continues to drop almost everywhere. But the Globe’s particularly steep decline was the calculated result of a 30 percent to 50 percent (depending on the geographic area) hike in home-delivery rates, Mayer writes. The move is credited with helping to stabilize the Globe’s shaky finances. And it drove even longtime print subscribers like the Media Nation household to switch to home delivery on Sundays only; the other six days we subscribe to GlobeReader, a paid electronic edition of the paper.
Mayer also reports that the local audience for Boston.com, the Globe’s website, is up 16 percent over the past year.
I don’t have any hard figures for the Boston Herald, but Jon Chesto of the Patriot Ledger reports that the Herald’s weekday circulation fell by 12 percent over the past year. That would put the Herald’s Monday-to-Friday current circulation at about 140,000. Sunday circulation at the Herald was about 95,000 a year ago.
The full text of Mayer’s memo follows.
As you may know the ABC March Fas-Fax six-month circulation numbers were released today, and as we anticipated, the Globe has shown significant year-over-year declines, as a result of our pricing strategy instituted last summer.
The Globe’s circulation, now at 378,949 on Sunday and 232,432 daily, still leaves us the most dominant newspaper in New England. The year-to-year decreases of about 19% on Sunday and 23% daily were just about what we budgeted. We raised prices last summer in most areas by 30% to 50% to grow circulation revenue and stabilize the business.
To stress the point, these decreases were forecast and taken into account before launching our strategy. We set out in this direction not only to cope with the effects of the recession on advertising, but to compensate for the structural shift of advertising to the Web.
In terms of readership, also included in the ABC Fas-Fax report, we reach 32% of all adults in the metro market on Sunday and 20% each weekday. In contrast to our print circulation declines, Boston.com’s local audience grew by 16%. When you factor in Boston.com, our readership is even more impressive. Currently, during an average week, the Sunday Globe, the daily Globe and Boston.com together will reach more than half of all adults in the metro Boston area.
We are also developing additional news platforms to attract audiences. For instance, our mobile product usage is growing considerably, as is our recently launched app for the iPhone. We launched GlobeReader, and are working full-speed on other initiatives. Our goal is to be available wherever and whenever the consumer wants – on whatever device they prefer.
No local media can point to such a large audience or dynamic media portfolio. It’s heartening to know that hundreds of thousands of adults choose to rely on the Globe’s quality news each and every day, and that the newspaper has a core loyal audience who is willing to pay a premium for our product.
Thank you for your continued commitment to our mission.