Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stunning Raleigh N&O circulation numbers

Last Tuesday, Nov. 25, readers of the McClatchy Company’s Raleigh News & Observer found splashed across the first page of the N&O’s Triangle & Co. section a story headlined “N&O photos still tell the hot stories.”

The story’s accompanied by a five-column-wide photo of the above the fold portion of the N&O's May 28, 1957 front page.

After scanning that 1957 N&O edition’s headline – “Legislators’ Liquor Arrives On Time” – I noticed a small item in the upper right-hand corner of the page.

It read:
Yesterday’s Paid Circulation – 125, 401.

The N&O’s May 28, 1957 announcement of paid circulation the previous day of 125,401 brought to mind a very recent post –
Raleigh N&O’s print circulation drops - in which I reported current N&O Sunday and weekly (M-F) paid print circulation.

Extract from that post - - -

According to the ABC [Audit Bureau of Circulations] … for the six-month period Apr-Sept. 30, 2008, the N&O had a daily circulation (M-F) of 159,000. (ABC circulation numbers and U. S. Census numbers to follow rounded to the nearest thousand)

Also according to the ABC, during the same [period] the N&O’s Sunday circulation [was] 206,000.

Now, readers, hold on to those numbers while I drop a few more numbers “on the table.”

At you'll find 1960 U.S. Census population for the N&O's home county - Wake- given as 169,000.

Also at you'll find July 1, 2007 U.S. Census population for Wake County given as 833,000.

Using the U.S. Census population numbers for 2007 and 1960, and subtracting from Wake's 2007 population (833,000) the 1960 Wake population of 169,000, yields a difference of 664,000.

Thus, according to U.S. Census reporting the population of Wake County grew between 1960 and 2007 by 664,000.

Now, if you take the ABC's N&O daily (M-F) print circulation finding of 159,000 for the period ending Sept. 30, 2008 and subtract from it the N&O's Monday, May 27,1957 print circulation of 125,000 (rounded to nearest thousand), you have a difference of 34,000.

So during the last half-century or so, the population of the N&O's home county and the core of its circulation area has grown by 664,000 while its daily (M-F) circulation has grown by 34,000.

If you're a McClatchy stockholder, an N&O advertiser, or an employee at the N&O, are the numbers in this post a surprise to you?

How about those of you who are N&O readers? Or those of you who are following the decline of what some media analysts call "the dead tree media?"

I found them stunning.

Look for more posts soon concerning the N&O's circulation.


Expat(ish) said...

Great catch!

And what is even worse - the proportion of college educated people has certainly risen since Wake was primarily a rural county. So the proportion of readers should have risen well above what it was.

So the weakness is even worse.

I'd also be that the circulation of the N&O in Durham, Orange, and Alamance is MUCH higher than it used to be - and those counties have grown (albiet at a slower rate) enormously as well.

My final point: the cost of a newspaper has surely dropped as a percent of income. Especially among the target audience for newspapers.

So, to net it out: growing physical distribution area plus growing population area plus relative cheapness of paper equals no (real) increase in circulation?

Sign me up for that business model!


Anonymous said...

OMG!! It just dawned on me: the next ragtag bunch to show up on Capitol Hill with their hands out will be......the newspapers!!!
Tarheel Hawkeye

Anonymous said...

Great post.

You really shine the lights on the N&O.

They must hate you.

Keep at it.

Anonymous said...

Without direct competition, what can critics do about the monopoly power of the Raleigh newspaper? The management and the McClatchy group appear to be impervious to criticism. Why have the attorneys ignored the role of the Quarles-Sill N&O in setting the table for Nifong's criminal frame of the lacrosse players?