By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions


The Boston Globe today hits the Boston Herald where it hurts — reporting not just that the Herald’s circulation, like the Globe’s (and like most newspapers), is plummeting, but that its numbers are squishy-soft.

According to figures compiled by the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) and reported by the Globe, the Herald’s weekday circulation fell by 4 percent, from 240,759 to 230,543, compared to the same six-month period a year earlier. On Sunday, the situation at One Herald Square is much worse: circulation is down nearly 14 percent, from 152,813 to 131,833.

But that’s not the heart of Robert Gavin’s Globe article. Here’s the real shot across Herald publisher Pat Purcell’s bow:

[T]he Herald has been relying increasingly on so-called bulk sales to bolster circulation. In those sales, single parties, such as a hotel, school, airline, or other business, buy many papers, typically at a discount, and distribute them, often for free. Bulk sales accounted for 19 percent of the Herald’s daily circulation, or almost one in five papers.

Traditionally, advertisers have looked less favorably on bulk sales, because it’s difficult to track how many papers end up in the hands of readers, and who those readers are, industry specialists said. Bulk buyers must pay at least 25 percent of the papers’ basic price in order to be counted as paid circulation….

The 19 percent of the Herald’s daily circulation accounted for by bulk sales was up from 11 percent a year ago. In contrast, the Globe cut its daily bulk sales by 37 percent, and they accounted for only about 7 percent of daily circulation, compared to 10 percent a year ago.

The Herald has been slamming the Globe’s circulation woes since Oct. 20, when the Globe’s corporate parent, the New York Times Co., released ABC figures showing that the Globe’s circulation was down by about 8 percent on weekdays and on Sunday. Just this past Saturday, the Herald’s Jesse Noyes poked fun at a New York-area circulation drive apparently aimed at selling Globes to Yankees fans.

The Globe, meanwhile, has not exactly been shy about flogging the latest rumors that the Herald and its suburban community-newspaper chain may be for sale.

Coming tomorrow: The Herald fights back?

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  1. Anonymous

    Cannabalism is always grotesque, but then Boston is the American schadenfreude capitol.

  2. Anonymous

    “Coming tomorrow: The Herald fights back?”NO. I would like that ignoramus Cosmo responding HERE sooner than tomorrow’s edition.What say you, Cosmo???

  3. Cosmo

    I say when you have the nerve to be something more than “anonymous” – I’ll gladly engage you.Otherwise, buzz off.Re: Dan’s post. Yes indeed – newspaper wars can be fun. But the challenges the industry faces have raised the stakes for everyone.

  4. mike_b1

    Do the circ data include the freebies — not the bulk, as DK defines, but rather those copies handed out at nbo charge by Herald newsboys in front of the T stations, for example?My wife hasn’t missed a Herald crossword in 2 years, and she has yet to actually pay for the paper.

  5. Anonymous

    Interesting. I’ve never been offered a free Herald. I’ve had a free Globe aggressively thrown in my face at Porter Square on many morning occasions. Even then, people tend to go with the Metro.

  6. mike_b1

    Stop by North Station sometime for the free Herald.

  7. LynnItemAnyone?

    The death scent around the herald ripes every day. It was said here recently and it’s true, it’s about the real estate. The publisher must be quite amused to watch his business section’s unethical “beat up The Globe” mantra while he shops the real estate and the papers (separate deals, since the sale of the paper will mark the end of the Herald; the value is in the ‘burbs and Framingham may be enough to be the flagship.)

  8. WakefieldItemAnyone?

    And as far as the Herald not being shy about “flogging the rumors” that The Globe is on a NY circulation push, if the Globe ever used the flimsy reporting found in the Jesse Noyes piece that speculates about a circulation push (“appears to have come up with a novel strategy: pitching to Yankee fans”) on the basis of a single telemarketing call, the Herald business page would give us a seven part series on it, using “experts” to help it’s thinly veiled, even unveiled, slams. Apparently the Herald’s neophyte business editor thinks calling company flaks constitutes reporting.

  9. Hiddenagendaanyone?

    It appears that I worry more than some about this becoming a one-newspaper town. Guess he has more confidence than I do in the guys with the World Series rings in Dorchester. On Saturday, Menino told them there would be “60,000 units” of housing “downtown” in ten years. It never dawned on anyone to do the math, much less question exactly WHERE they would be.

  10. Anonymous

    I too have been practically assaulted by hawkers trying to give away the Globe at the Porter Square station. Last summer they gave it away for WEEKS for free and still there weren’t a lot of takers.

  11. Anonymous

    The Cosmo or whatever you call him says:”I say when you have the nerve to be something more than “anonymous” – I’ll gladly engage you.Otherwise, buzz off.”So this punk-like-sounding guy is supposed to be a business editor of one of the two major Boston newspapers??? Are you kidding me??? How about you hold your fire for when it counts and actually have a better, smarter comeback you can enlighten us how we are wrong to interpret your woes as we do and defend your company a bit more professionally and usefully.Instead, you come off like a bar bouncer. You look like one and certainly now show you are the problem with the Herald. It is because it is coddling to people like you and therefore has to put people like you in charge and then complains that advertisers and readers are not impressed.I still cannot wrap my mind around the fact that you are in charge of the BUSINESS section. You should have a lot more on your plate and you can drive your paper’s comeback with so many great stuff out there to report and analyze. Yet, you prove you are an incompetent by excellence and the cause of your own misery.Get a brain and get some education, Cosmo. I don’t mind you brawling if that’s the style you want to adopt. But some substance please. And you speak for the Herald?? No wonder it is doing so poorly!I appluad you willingness to respond publicly. Kudos for that. So can you answer fianlly WHY is it that in a two-paper Boston universe, does the Herald circ hover around the 200k?? Isn’t that embrassing?? With all the avid advertisers for Sunday editions, you can’t even get it up to the 300k range?? That’s pitiful.If you are such a savvy business reporter/editor, can you switch hats and stop reporting for a while and jump in the business/BizDev side of the Herald to help them manage their mess??Or you just would not like to put your title to the test? A business editor would be a very likely candidate to climb the ladder quicker than others and ultimately be in charge of the whole operation. Show us your worth, Cosmo!”Re: Dan’s post. Yes indeed – newspaper wars can be fun. But the challenges the industry faces have raised the stakes for everyone. “So actually any whiff of a thought is couched in a post-scriptum. Let me ‘edit’ that for you, smarty pants: “But the challenges the industry faces becuase of substandard uneducated clueless people like me, Cosmo, have raised the stakes for everyone looking to recreate or patronize a newspaper with a spine like in the old times, with higher standards, a mission other than make Pat Purcell or NYT shareholders richer and a lot more intelligence and honest character.”How do you like this long winded sentence?? Not good enough editing material, right?? Neither are you.N.A more useful PS for you Cosmo: Go to this link, and learn.

  12. mike_b1

    Why did I know, before I even scrolled to the bottom, that the previous post was from “N.”?

  13. Anonymous

    Probably because N.’s penchant for prolixity precedes him.

  14. Anonymous

    Hey, anonymous, I’ll borrow an expression from a very erudite friend of mine: “Buzz off!”What’s that new word you just learned…….procto…no..that must be your middlename.Oh well, If I have time for your very ‘succint and informative’ post, I’ll scroll up and look it up again. Because, it really ‘merits’ a second look: a useless bitchy jab from an appearently bitter bimbo.Can you actually contribute a thought or you can’t hold in your pants vaccuous criticism of mundane non-newsworthy. What do you care if others’s post is long or short, idiot? How about a novel idea: stick to the subject, imbecile! N.

  15. Anonymous

    (correction) Can you actually contribute a thought or you can’t hold in your pants vaccuous criticism of mundane non-newsworthy visitors. What do you care if others’ post is long or short, idiot? How about a novel idea: stick to the subject, imbecile!

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