Newspaper Apocalypse Now?

The Audit Bureau of Circulations released its spring figures on newspaper circulation for the six months ending March 31, 2009.  And they are scary, particularly for some of the newspapers that are already in trouble.  The Boston Globe daily dropped 13.6%, to 302,638; its Sunday decreased 11.2% to 466, 665.  The Chicago Tribune lost 7.4% of its daily circulation, to 501, 202, while its Sunday circ dropped 4.5% to 858,256.  The San Francisco Chronicle showed a lost of 15.7% in its daily, to 312,118; the Philadelphia Inquirer shed 13.7%, to 288,298; and the daily Atlanta Journal-Constitution fell nearly 20%, to 261,828.  The overall average for the 395 newspapers reporting was 7%.  

Speaking last week about the Boston Globe at the New York Times Company shareholders' meeting, chairman Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., expressed his hope that the Globe will not be shut down, as has been promised if the papers' union does not find $20 million in concessions in the next few weeks.  Sulzberger did not go on to expand on this.  

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Sulzberger and the future of the Times are also the subject of an in-depth Vanity Fair piece this month.  As much as Sulzberger insists that his job is to "keep the Times on course," author Mark Bowden wonders whether he understands that today "staying on course means turning the ship around."

In the circulations audit, while the Daily News and the New York Post both posted huge losses, 14% and 16% respectively, the New York Times did better than the average, showing a better-than-average 3.5% drop to 1,039,031 for the daily and a mere 1.7% drop in Sunday circ, to 1,451,233. Crosstown rival The Wall Street Journal actually showed a small increase of 0.6% in its daily circ, to 2,082,189.  

Jim McDermott, SJ

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8 years 5 months ago
It would be a shame to lose any great newspapers; what would be a substitute for them? I have grave doubts that the NY Times and the Boston Globe are any longer great newspapers; in many ways they are becoming like the "National Enquirer" - full of fantasy and worse - full of agendas. My rude awakening was when the Boston Globe touted the sexual-abuse- by-priests issue; and not only claimed old news as new but published as truth untrue stories and calumnies and never made any apologies when the facts were known. And, then the NY Times promoted the war in Iraq while pretending to be objective; just like they are promoting a war with Iran right now by touting any news or source that Iran is "going nuclear" or any other negative Iran opportunity. Not only that, but they are really anti-Catholic and if you notice, any degrading story about the Catholic Church finds it's pages out of proportion to the news value of the incident; and, not only that but any opportunity to oppose the morals of Orthodox Catholicism are seized upon by editors and opinion makers. It is a shame, but Sulzberger has made a bit of a sham of what his great grandfather built.

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