Monday, July 14, 2008

McClatchy’s N&O’s revealing Sunday circulation numbers

If you’re a Raleigh News & Observer reader and you’ve believed the editors and publisher’s “rah-rah” claims in recent years about “positive” N&O circulation numbers, fasten your seatbelt.

Last week I posted N&O’s McClatchy stock: then and now , which had to do with the stock's crash. Within the past five years McClatchy's stock’s traded in the mid-70s. In March 2006 it traded in the mid-40s. It now sells around $5.

A commenter noted the Daniels family, which owned the N&O for a century, was smart to sell it to McClatchy in 1995. The commenter included a link to a site where the N&O has posted milestones in its history including this one:

September 1993 - - - Sunday sales of The News & Observer top 200,000 every week this month.
Now look at what public editor Ted Vaden reported in his May 28, 2008 column:
The N&O's total average circulation this year is 172,029 daily, 210,185 Sunday
Assuming the September 1993 and Vaden’s 2008 Sunday circulation numbers are accurate, the N&O’s Sunday circulation increased between Sept. 1993 and May 2008 by about 10,000 paper, a 5% circulation increase over about a 15 year period.

Now the N&O being the N&O, I don’t doubt that kind of increase is just the sort of data editors and the publisher have been relying on for their “rah-rah” claims about how well N&O circulation is doing. In recent years the N&O “masthead people” have also noted how well the N&O’s doing compared to other newspapers which are losing circulation.

But if you’re sure your seat belts are fastened, look at the following U. S. Census Bureau population numbers for Wake County which contains the City of Raleigh (numbers rounded to nearest thousands):
1990 - - - 423, 000

2000 - - - 628, 000

2007 - - - 833,000 (estimated)
So in the 17 years from 1990 to 2007, the Census Bureau estimates Wake County’s population increased from 423,000 to 833, 000, an almost a 100% population increase.

Those Census Bureau numbers really put the N&O’s 5% Sunday circulation increase from 1993 to 2008 in perspective, don’t they?

They certainly help us understand why current N&O employees and former ones who’ve recently lost jobs there say they’re not just victims of recent tough times in the newspaper industry.

They insist they’re also victims of mismanagement by McClatchy's N&O “masthead people” who failed to face up to obvious and major problems at the paper, including circulation which for many years has failed to keep pace with population growth.

Hat tip: Locomotive Breath


Anonymous said...

On the web:
Newspaper layoffs announced
(Obama campaign staffers cut)

Anonymous said...

My out-of-work journalist friend told me about a webpage devoted to frustrated journalists. It is a place for them to vent. I had to chuckle at this vent, [“…citizen journalism can be dangerous. Where are the standards?”]
“ Tell us what’s making you upset at your journalism job.”

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