LAT tops in circ drop

Among big-city newspapers, only the Miami Herald (8.8%) lost a bigger percentage of its daily readers than the Los Angeles Times (8%) in today's new numbers. The Times, of course, led in raw numbers of readers lost with a daily circulation now of 775,766. Remember that it's only since Tribune took over that the daily count fell below a million, and the last pre-Tribune CEO, Mark Willes, even talked boldly (some might say insanely) about going for two million. Instead, daily circulation is now far below the national big boys: Wall Street Journal, USA Today and New York Times. The Sunday count at the LAT dropped 6% to 1,172,005, for the six-months ending in September. Circulation was down almost everywhere: "What's stunning about these numbers is the magnitude of the declines," Mark Lacter says at LA Biz Observed. Editor & Publisher

Internally, the Times has a positive spin on the numbers, stressing readers not circulation and claiming that "these are solid and encouraging results, reflecting efforts all across the company." Bulletin to staff from publisher David Hiller after the jump:

October 30, 2006

Folks,

Today, we announced our circulation for the six months ended Sept. 24. Our total average paid Sunday circulation was 1,172,005 and 775,766 for Monday-Friday. We also reported average individually paid circulation of 741,665 Monday-Friday, an increase of 0.3%, and 1,157,332 Sunday, a decrease of 2.7%, compared with the same period last year.

The increase in individually paid circulation Monday-Friday was very good news, and will be among the best in the industry reported today. (Tribune newspapers averaged down 1.3%, and other peer newspapers were down 3.3%.) Our Sunday individually paid decrease was in line with other Tribune papers (down 2.5%) and better than peers (down 4.2%). As you know, we are focused on the individually paid audience, which is the audience advertisers most value.

Our total paid numbers, which showed declines of 8% daily and 6% on Sunday, reflect our strategy for improving the quality of our circulation by reducing other paid circulation.

Importantly, readership increased modestly for both daily and Sunday, reaching almost 2.2 million daily and 3.3 million Sunday.

These are solid and encouraging results, reflecting efforts all across the company.

We need to continue to innovate and change to bring more readers to the paper, and also to our websites. The recent re-design of the A section and the re-launch of Sunday Calendar are excellent examples. Look for The Envelope's new 11-week special print section series, which launches Wednesday. And as I am learning, there are an array of other exciting initiatives to build readership and circulation.

Thanks for all of your efforts on these fronts. They really show.

David


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